ON AIR: Are we over-educated?

Ros, Chloe and Mark are in Glasgow for tonight’s special broadcast from the Civicus Youth Assembly. The presentations have been made, and a vote taken for which of the four debates below we’re going to talk about tonight.

Are we overeducated? won by a good margin so keep posting your comments below….

Should 16 year olds be allowed to vote? came second, so we’ll probably talk about that too.

Chola and Susan from Zambia proposed the winner…

Is the amount of money spent on education (especially further education) inappropriate and indulgent when so many children have no access to education in their teens? Is it right that governments should help young adults to do degrees? Should they enable as many people as possible to study into their 20s? Or is there a danger that you spend money on educating people to a level where there aren’t enough jobs for them to do? And that resources that could go into primary and secondary education for everyone, are being spent on the few who study for longer? Is a better way to help grow a country’s economy, to get people out of education and into jobs sooner?

236 Responses to “ON AIR: Are we over-educated?”

  1. 1 Janet T
    June 17, 2008 at 20:09

    Are we over educated? Possibly- this is a tough one, we seem to have left vocational education behind in favor of 4+ year degrees- when many should be after vocational degrees- I guess they have become passé or don’t seem glamorous enough? It seems as though kids graduate today from both high school and college knowing things but not how to think for themselves, how to problem solve and with very little common sense. I hate to lump together a generation by age to make a point- I know many recent bright young high-school and college grads, as well as many who have graduated with degrees and are working in very basic jobs- My first impulse is to say degrees should be IN something you can do- like business, law, accounting rather than art history, women’s studies or sociology. But I think that as a society we still need English lit majors if only because I will always need minimum wage workers.

  2. 2 Dennis
    June 17, 2008 at 20:18

    Yes, we are very OVER-EDUCATED…

    Syracuse, New York

  3. 3 Angela in Washington D.C.
    June 17, 2008 at 20:22

    I do not believe we are over-educated. I actually believe many people are under-educated. The quality of a public education is dependent on where you live. I think public education should be required, as it is, because everyone may not go on pursue a degree, but at least individuals have the opportunity.

  4. 4 John van Dokkumburg
    June 17, 2008 at 20:28

    Good Education isnt as we have now (Coverments)having unilateral economic o they have made this strange idea . Yes , Uni is made for everyone , and everyone wants a good live , but do we need a luxery live ? Automatic Buymachines because some smart people knows how we want the socalled helpfull things ? I dont like it , this brainwashing education machine .. it can dammage a lot socialy . Yes my frends it can be lesser then our high economic stimulation programes and .. we all can learn for having enough but having a good live ! We need Stimulating to be One worldeconomic that is a thing and to live spontain and free of money !

    What we need is just a chance of spirit , a basic SCHOOL for win and spread world and personal peace, we need to accept our beeing, and stay open to rewin and try to love the simple automatic brain, then we shall know everything in the universe and all there is allready was prepaired for us ! The links for good and bad : creat a dynamic COMMUNION and experiance > learn > and seek explainations (education) that is the adventure , circle round . Problems we resolve in love, learn we do in true and love .

    General : women and men need to have there unique place, that is the feel good uni-relation in it .

  5. June 17, 2008 at 20:29

    We need more education. For those who complain of over education, try ignorance.

  6. 6 steve
    June 17, 2008 at 20:33

    I think the US is overeducated, maybe not with actual knowledge, but with degrees. Here in the US, you need a university degree just to prove basic literacy. A high school degree is not enough, but you can still be a complete idiot and have a university degree. The actual degree is worthless, but is now a mere formality, something you need, like wearing a suit to an interview, but doesn’t actually help you out otherwise. Now graduate degrees are the next thing, it used to be everyone would get an M.BA, even though they are worthless without any job experience and connections. Now the latest is law school. Everyone is going to law school, especially in a bad economy, and there are not remotely enough jobs, so people will come out owing a lot and having no way of repaying their loans.


  7. June 17, 2008 at 20:34

    I agree with the further above that it seems that we have shifted the emphasis into further education while it appears that basic and early education have been marginalized.
    We might be mis educated but not over educated.
    Isnt that one of the goals of an enlightened society…to educate and thus enlighten?

  8. 8 Zak
    June 17, 2008 at 20:40

    Many, Native American societies, nearly all, believed that educating a child beyond the age of 18 was immoral. There is an argument to say that if children don’t first learn how to live they won’t ever. So in a sense, being that plenty of people with Doctorates literally don’t know how to grow a garden, yes.

    A great example of this is a friend of mine named Lester who’s now in his late 60’s. He has a teaching credential/masters degree. But he only ever taught for a very short time, possibly only a year. Ever since then he’s gone back to doing the kind of manual labor that he learned in conjunction with his education at the Boys School my grandparents started on the Pacific coast. He fixes peoples toilets and water heaters and the like in Chico, CA. Lester’s been successfully doing this for 60 years now continuing on. He has a motto on a pad of note paper he hands out which says: “I sell labor.”

  9. June 17, 2008 at 20:40

    How can anyone be over-educated? We should all strive to be “students of the world.”

  10. 10 Emilio
    June 17, 2008 at 20:58

    Are we over-educated? No. Are we badly educated? Yes.

    I know grammar school drop-outs who know enough to live long and fruitful lives. I know university graduates who are asinine idiots.

    Put aside the need of every community to have an intelligencia, for geniuses and creative people will sprout without regard to schooling. The real problem in our society is that the educational system no longer develops the whole person. It only concentrates on the state-minimum book-learning requirements.

    The public educational system in the United States requires little effort and imposes no expectation of how the individual should fit into society. A college degree today tells little of an individual’s intellectual or emotional maturity; it only denotes that the person was held out of the labor force for several additional years and was able to pay out a small fortune to do it.

    If we are to progress as a society, a nation, a world, we must demand that the system give us an education that includes high moral standards and graduates who demand of themselves becoming a positive force in the community. These are elements that used to be the prerogative of parents — but parents today are just a product of the broken educational system themselves.

    Emilio d’Abruzzi

  11. June 17, 2008 at 21:05

    There is of course a line at what you can call over-educated:
    UNICEF is reporting only 2 in 5 children in Iraq are enrolled in school.

    I still don’t believe you can tackle that issue by advocating for higher education though.

  12. 12 Rashid Patch
    June 17, 2008 at 21:08

    In the U.S., we are grossly under-educated. What we do have is a surplus of people with educational credentials that are of no value whatsoever.

    There has been a steady reduction of academic standards since the 1960’s at least. Education at all levels has degraded. Standardized test scores of high-school students, such as the SAT, have steadily declined, despite several revisions of standards.

    A significant percentage of students entering college in the U.S. can neither write nor comprehend a simple paragraph. Even college graduates can neither write nor comprehend a simple business document or contract. Forget bilingualism – most Americans can barely communicate lucidly in one language. The state of the U.S. economy – and the staggering loads of personal indebtedness among Americans – demonstrate widespread innumeracy. The knowledge of geography or history in this country is simply ludicrous – witness the current occupant of the White House.

    Our current vast imbroglios in Iraq and Afghanistan are symptomatic of our under-education, mis-education, and just pervasive dumbth.

  13. June 17, 2008 at 21:14

    Yes, we are over educated. The over-cultivation of the intellect at the expense of the intuitive perception is the cause of imbalance and all the problems that we suffer today, The academic institutions have become the monastery of secular priesthood/ the intellectuals who are busy forging terms and phrases to deliberately confuse the general public with incomprehensibilities.

    The fact that many people are seeking for answers in yoga, transcendental meditation, Buhdism and many forms of therapy which are growing in number every day proves that many people have not found understanding happiness and happiness in what is described as formal education. Education that does not help you answers can not be called education. Most institutions of education have become centres of intense malediction and misleading away from the truth,


  14. 14 Julie P
    June 17, 2008 at 21:20

    I actually remember having this same conversation with a friend this past winter. We’ve been friends for 20 (gulp!) years and were cruising down memory lane, and talking politics. One of things that I remember telling him was how fortunate we are to be living in an industialized society where we have the luxury of pursuing our intellectual desires, then related to it Maslow’s theory. He paused, thought a moment, then retorted, maybe we’re over educated. Have we come this far to be idle, and analyzing everything to death? I don’t think we know how to live in the moment.

  15. June 17, 2008 at 21:26

    Yes, we are over educated. The over-cultivation of the intellect at the expense of the intuitive perception is the cause of imbalance and all the problems that we suffer today, The academic institutions have become the monastery of secular priesthood/ the intellectuals who are busy forging terms and phrases to deliberately confuse the general public with incomprehensibilities.

    The fact that many people are seeking for answers in yoga, transcendental meditation, Buhdism and many forms of therapy which are growing in number every day proves that many people have not found understanding happiness and happiness in what is described as formal education. Education that does not help you answers can not be called education. Most institutions of education have become centres of intense miseducation and misleading away from the truth,


  16. 16 Robert
    June 17, 2008 at 21:29

    You can never be over educated but you can waste your time in education. Education must achieve something once you’ve completed the course, be it teaching you the basic skills needed for day to day living (as with schools), a specialist skill that you will pursue as a career (as with university or apprenticeships) or even for pure enjoyment and hobbies (perhaps night school classes). The trick is selecting the most suitable course to fit your ambition and ability (no point going to Havard if you’ve failed at high school.)

    If the course subject, material, depth and rigour is not sufficient to meet any of these criteria than surely it has defeated the purpose and failed. This results in the idea in the general publics mind that education is a fruitless endevour that achieves nothing and should not be embarked on.

  17. 17 Anthony
    June 17, 2008 at 21:45

    When I was selling cars, there were so many people there with degrees in this and that, who just ended up selling cars. I was also a manager for a sporting goods store, and so many of the other managers had 4 year degrees, yet I had squat, was younger, and was doing the same thing. It was kinda funny 🙂

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  18. 18 Barry8
    June 17, 2008 at 21:53

    It is not possible to be over educated. Often powers that be fail to realise just why education is important. Passing government tests is NOT at all of
    any value; the desire to acquire knowledge is aided by
    the students natural curiosity to know why and where they are in the world. Good teachers should have the ABILITY, and the FREEDOM , to foster that interest. It is a fault in human nature to wish others TO SERVE THEM (or US)and, generally, most of us are guilty of this. Likely most of us do not seem to be aware of it.
    We do have a long time in which to improve!

  19. 19 P. Dewsnap
    June 17, 2008 at 21:55

    Compared to educational standards in Britain during the War years, yes we are grossly under-educated and the US is even worse. I can’t speak for other countries.

  20. June 17, 2008 at 22:02

    Analysis leads to paralysis. We are numbed and havebecome stagnant. If we look at the financial markets a great deal of analysis is made to decide on investment so we can have a prosperous economy. What do we find today. The so called experts who made decisions to ruin man y livelihoods are rewarded. A system that rewards cwrong doers cannot surely last. It must totter and crumble and fall to ruin.

    Analysis is necessary and useful only when it is complemented synthesis. Synthesis can only be made by intuitive perception and not by the intellect.

    Lets look what is described as civilisation and credited to what we regard as education. Can we really say any thing that poisons the air we breath civilisation ? The same question applies for the food and water we need. It seems suicidal caused by the blindness of greed and vanity.

    Unless our educational system is built on Cosmology we have chosen our extinction.

  21. 21 Julie P
    June 17, 2008 at 22:08


    I live in Atlanta which has the most college educated market in the country, then Washington, DC. Degrees here are a dime a dozen. I have talked with recruiters for businesses that are not even impressed with seeing Masters of this, that, or the other on their resume. Bachelor Degrees carry nearly the weight of a high school diploma. I learned this while I was looking for a job just before and right after I graduated from college. I stayed at the job I was in while I was in college. I certainly did not need a college education to do that job. I needed a pulse. To exacerbate the problem, I was looking in the worst job market since the Great Depression. After a long search, I found a career. I choose something that would give me the skills necessary to grow a professional career that I would enjoy. (I still needed a degree for the position.) Just this past week, I have been offered the professional job that I went to college for. I never quit looking for what I wanted and what I believe I deserve. I am going to point out that job would not be offered to me if I had gone to college and did what it took to get it. There is a degree requirement for the job. No BBA, no job. The position has the salary and prestige that one can expect from all that hard work, and perseverance. Degrees open doors that would have been closed to a person otherwise. Get one. However, get one not just for a high paying job, get one because you like to learn.

  22. June 17, 2008 at 22:09

    This discussion has a duality to it: there is what extends beyond Secondary School, but there’s also the rights to basic education.

    The issues are intrinsically related: again my opinion is that the greater issue is whether or not children have access to education and in some cases that can be at the cost of higher education.

  23. 23 jamily5
    June 17, 2008 at 22:12

    We are propelled forward by progress.
    We are bombarded with information and encouraged to “know more” than our fathers. What was good enough yesxterday will not be good enough tomorrow.
    Thus, if our father got a four-year degree, we must show him that we can progress with the times and get a Masters or Doctorate.
    If my mother studied enough to get two degrees, we must have three or four.

    We can’t just be:
    a person with a High School education who does his job well.
    We have to have a degrree, it is a status symbol and everyone tells us that even if our degree is in something like “General Studies,” which does not directly corelate to a job, at least employers will know that you were dedicated enough to stay in for four years — as if the first twelve (at least in the usa) weren’t enough.
    ANd, of course, they don’t see it as a piddling away one’s time on a useless degree.

    So College graduates are getting the best factory/industrial jobs — even if they aren’t the best factory/assembly workers, just because of their education.
    Of course, I value a university degree.
    But, contrary to popular belief, it does not tell me how dependable, how much common sense, how hard working, how stable or how resourceful that this person will be.
    ANd, if the person does not go to unibversity or is not intelectual — in the academically speaking — then, they are lookd down upon.
    And, the IQ tests only look for a few different kinds of inteligence.
    It is too bad that respect is given based on degree and not character.
    I don’t believe that we are over-educated.
    But, we don’t have the right views about education and intelect.
    We don’t use our education to get a job or to make enough money to support our family.
    We use education as a way to prove our high intelect, a way to cement our status and a way to feel superior.

    Now, someone asked:
    with limited funds:
    should we try and bring everyone up to a level of education or let those wih want degrees, have them.
    That a tough one.

  24. 24 Will Rhodes
    June 17, 2008 at 22:16

    Over educated?

    Some people cannot write, read, add up, subtract – that’s under educated – get that right first.

  25. June 18, 2008 at 00:11

    Education is everybody’s right. It shouldn’t be limited to fighting illiteracy but to provide the learners with the means to acquire sufficient knowledge to develop their personality and to get a good job.

    But as there are social differences between the rich and the poor, there is also education for the rich and the poor. The rich have the means to teach their children in the best schools with the highly qualified teachers who give individual attention to each student. The problem with education in state schools in many countries is that they are under-equipped and overcrowded. In some countries like Egypt, the number of students in a class reaches up to 60, where there are only basic means for teaching like chalk, blackboard and textbooks.

    There can be talk about education becoming a burden for the states as it absorbs more than 13% of the national budget. Students don’t get their studies in adequate conditions, mainly because of overcrowding and under-equipment. Students end up undereducated. Only intelligent and self reliant ones can make it amidst this educational chaos.

    There are also students unfit to be in school because of their lack of aptitude. But because of political reasons, they’re kept at school at least until the age of 16. Some students are cheated in being passed to another grade although they don’t deserve it just to make room for the new comers in that grade.

    Educational curricula are sometimes disoriented and outdated. This goes from primary schools up to colleges and universities. Students end up with diplomas that like false money which they can’t use in any trade. No wonder if there are academically qualified people who just become jobless after finishing their studies.

    The problem then remains with the problem of unfit or poor education. The educational system becomes for many countries an opportunity to boast the statistics about the educational staff, the number of the students and schools compared with the past years.

    There is also the problem of some third world countries that copycat educational curriculum from developed countries, which doesn’t fit their reality.

    In short, the educational system should be adapted to the current economic and social needs of each country, at least to offer the biggest majority of graduates the opportunity to get a job. Education for education’s sake has no place in the modern world. It should be the source of making a living, without forgetting that once an ambitious person is stable they can further their education for promotion or just for self-fulfilment.

  26. June 18, 2008 at 01:12

    It should be noted that Stephen Hawking is trying to collaborate with the AU to bring advanced mathematics to Africa; the one obstacle is the failure of the 1 laptop per child another brainchild idea from America.

    See that’s where the conflict comes in, as long as you can say we’ll always have higher education in one country it may still come at the cost of lower education.

  27. June 18, 2008 at 01:19

    Abdelilah says In some countries like Egypt, the number of students in a class reaches up to 60…

    That number is easily doubled in inner city American schools on a regular basis. America will soon find out what it’s populous is made of when the kids who have laptops and online games to play 24/7 and text messages to read; go out and attempt to find that same level of non concentration jobs. That’s the failure rich or poor, it takes discipline to find the mean point of education but it doesn’t start from the top down, it starts from the bottom up.

    Take the NY public school system which looks just the same as all the others in the States; but it’s not. When a teacher has a conflict sometimes as simple as being disliked by the boss, principle, they are sent to a building which is the equivalent of detention. Only it doesn’t end, there are teachers who have been reassigned to this building with other teachers for years, awaiting a meeting with their superior, at which point they are either fired or reinstated. They go there and get paid to sit around 5 days a week 8 hours a day and do nothing. Now that is failure in action, but it may be just suited for young teachers with 0 attention span. It surely was designed by an administrator fresh out of grad school who did not have a clue about day 1 in the real world.

  28. 28 Brett
    June 18, 2008 at 02:30

    Overeducated? Maybe, in the perspective of classroom and book-smarts… Still ignorant, and acting as such in regards to society and civilization? Yep.
    It’s as if no matter what we KNOW, at some point human nature takes over and acts on it’s own free will, often against our knowledge and education. We still act stupid and self-destructive, do stupid things, and ignore our education.

  29. 29 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 02:41

    @ Brett

    “We” still sent men to the moon and will probably go to Mars in the next 25 years, not that bad.

  30. 30 Bob in Queensland
    June 18, 2008 at 04:06

    I found this question extremely thought provoking. Well done to the ladies who posed it!

    Taking the final part of the question first:

    Is a better way to help grow a country’s economy, to get people out of education and into jobs sooner?

    At least in the longer term, my answer is “no”. There might be some short term benefit in increasing the labour force but this is probably a short-sighted attitude. True long term growth will come from having more engineers, doctors, computer and communication specialists and so on. I have not statistics to back this up but I’d be very surprised if there are many countries where a lack of labour force is a major factor limiting economic growth. Far more often there is too much unskilled or semi-skilled labour out there.

    Having said that, I suspect that, particularly in the west, there is too much education of the wrong sort which has led to “education inflation”–a situation where jobs that used to be done by people with basic diplomas now require a degree. One example I happen to know about in the UK is radiologists (X-ray technicians). Until the mid 1990s, this job was done by people who took a 2 year diploma course. Then, in the 90s, it was changed to a 3 year BSc(honours) course. Did the people taking X-rays get any more specific training in X-rays? No…in fact they got slightly less. The extra year was taken up writing essays on the theory of funding a health service and things like that.

    So, in this sort of case I’ll contradict myself and say that SOMETIMES we DO have too much education–or at least education of the wrong sort.

  31. 31 Trang
    June 18, 2008 at 04:07

    I don’t think there’s such a thing as being over-educated but more about learning the useful thing for yourself. As a business graduate, I just finished my 3 years of college and now I’m at a loss at what I want to do. Had I done something vocational, it would be easier to be useful to society. But I was presented with few choices, given the education system I was in, so following the most popular and promising course seemed the right thing to do. Now, even with a good degree, I regretted that decision. And it’s true I have to start with the most basic job that any high school leaver can do. That’s the reality for many like me. I hope the future generations will have more and better guidance on what they should do in college.

  32. June 18, 2008 at 04:38

    First, define “Education”. What is it? Who does it exist for? Who and What does it serve? What is its function in society and society’s ability to ensure the well being of its members? What its function in the private lives of people? Education or Training? Living or Making a Living? The distinction has been lost.

    Training for jobs is essential–is that ‘education’? Learning HOW Life is to be lived–does that hold any value for us today? It did for our Greek and Roman ancestry. It did to the ancient Chinese and Hindus and Hebrews. Today the marketplace rules over all else, doesn’t it?

    I am a retired teacher. High School and college. In years teaching, I found that the ability of first year college students to read and interpret what they read, to write and express what they thought, declined consistently over the years, to where we feared we’d be teaching the three R’s to incoming freshmen before we could engage them in History or Literature or Science or much of anything else! But now these youngsters go after MBA’s and need not bother with any of the rest!

    Are we over-educated? Oh, Yes, we are! In what I call, “meal-ticket training”–education for the market place. MBA’s galore and not much else! We in the West, direct heirs to some of the world’s great cultures and sources of human values and meaning, we no longer know History nor understand the meaning and value of the dead past to the living present; we no longer read much less study, understand, discuss the Classics–the writings of mankind’s great thinkers, now long gone; we no longer value Literature, Philosophy, Ethics, treasures bequeathed to us as sources of meaning and values, daily guidance in our lives. Teachers can’t teach because they weren’t taught!

    So we know the business of the market place. And very little of the true business of Life. Our youth neither have nor seek nor are they given any sound guidance on the meanings, the relevancies and true values that make of Life an adventure of the highest kind. Nor is any of us taught HOW to think. Oh yes! Thinking, the proper ordering and management of Thought, is an art and a discipline once taught and now lost from sight!

    WHAT IS THE ‘GOOD LIFE’? HOW IS IT TO BE LIVED? FOR WHAT PURPOSE, TO WHAT ENDS? WHY ARE WE HERE? AND HOW IS MAN TO THINK? These and others are the questions the ancients asked of THEMSELVES AND EACH OTHER, explored, discussed and sought to answer. Not yet relegated to the realms of theology, dogma and institutionalized religion, nor left to academicians and professional experts in ivory towers, these were the issues bandied about and grappled with by the common man in everyday markets and streets! No computers, no tv or Ipods, no cars or planes, no electric and no video games! But also no ‘experts,’ no ‘academicians’ and no news media to tell us what to think, how to judge, what to believe! Thought belonged to the man in the street.

    Are we over-educated? It depends on the values one holds. It depends on the answers one gives to questions we no longer care to ask or even think about!

    My personal answer is NO, we are certainly NOT OVER educated in matters that count, rather sadly and perilously lacking in values and meaning of true and proven worth.

    I think the mess we’ve made of the world in all sectors tells a truer tale of our level of education, values, meaning and goals than schools, universities, libraries or you or I can tell!

  33. 33 viola anderson
    June 18, 2008 at 05:07

    Over-educated? Isn’t that what you would call an oxymoron? (I just looked up the meaning of oxymoron). To me, it fits the definition.

  34. June 18, 2008 at 05:20

    Again there’s a duality that needs to be recognized, educated is not edified. I believe when we are talking about basic education we’re talking about edification primarily and education second. When we’re talking about over-education that could only be people who go on into college and essentially don’t come out, the ‘professional student’ is the colloquial we haven’t mentioned here. I can think of a few who have spent 4 or more years at the local JC and they are definitely over-educated.

    We also have to ask the question of whether higher education is always worth the cost: as in to become a teacher. Is it worth it in todays society to get a teaching credential and make 1/10 of the salary of a mid grade MBA managing a business. My mom has a masters in teaching from Stanford, she started college at 16 in 1952, but she’s now running our family business, an inn on the coast where she makes about 10 thousand more than she would as a teacher. Frankly though, the cost for higher education makes becoming a teacher very daunting today. My mom sees that she just couldn’t make it as a teacher so she takes the small business job where she just makes enough to live.

  35. 35 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    June 18, 2008 at 09:54

    So as I understand the well reasoned intro paragraph, the question isn’t “Are we [?] overeducated?” but “Should government make sure to fund proper primary education before funding university?”

    Absolutely! If government must choose which to fund, it’s more important to ensure everyone gets a start, learns to read and whatnot. The ambitious and industrious will figure a way to get into college when the time comes. And there is no better way to grow an economy than to educate, educate, educate, and of course be free-market capitalists.

    That was easy!

  36. 36 Dennis Cote
    June 18, 2008 at 10:20

    I use a term frequently,…..”over-educated idiots”.
    It means being well schooled and educated in fields of specialty, yet not able to function of the level of common sense.
    We have a college in Metro Keene, with many well, if not , over-educated students, yet they can’t handle driving around the Roundabout in the heart of the city.
    When I was in High School, vocational education was available. (my mom wouldn’t let me take it, but it was there, if needed).
    It’s a great way for students at the ‘learning level’, (rather than ‘party level’), to pick a vocation , a special area of interest, and pursue it.
    College is turning out to be the best party zones,with the hopes of getting a degree in having fun.
    Sadly, those degrees don’t get you far in life.
    Their parents are paying dearly for it, which suits me, it’s how they were brought up, after all.

  37. 37 Pangolin-California
    June 18, 2008 at 11:06

    We are overschooled; our education is almost completely absent. I live in a Northern California College town and my opinion is that the students there can’t be trusted with a sharp hoe lest they hurt themselves. For several years I had a job working with students in their off campus housing needs and I can tell you these kids are dumber than a bag of rocks.

    Some life lessons that I had to clean up after. Don’t light candles in a wicker basket. Don’t drink yourself into a near catatonic state and then get in the shower. (It floods the building) Don’t store your cooking oil on the stovetop. In case of an electrical fire turn off the power; call the fire department, then call the landlord. Several don’ts with firearms that I will not detail. If your room-mate hasn’t moved in three days; check on his health (dead). In case of a burst pipe turn the valve to the right; any valve, experiment. If you are a college student it would behoove you to have some books. A long list of things not to flush down toilets. Major in something besides beer.

    That person at the front of the room is the instructor. It might help to listen to him once in a while.

    What we have done is created a class system where those that can fund four years of college can earn an almost automatic degree if they are so inclined. The poor sods that actually love learning and are interested in the world will find the other students painful to the extreme.

    For most people university degrees are a method of class filtration, nothing more.

  38. June 18, 2008 at 11:20

    As the various systems that sustain our societies have become more complicated, and as the range of knowledge itself has become more complex, education has had to become a) function-orientated and b) increasingly specialist.

    The result is that the education system is mostly turning out functionaries and specialists, and a ‘broad’ or liberal education is disappearing from the world.

    The stream that has largely been abandoned has been that of the humanities, because it is considered not to have a directly functional or technological result.

    This leaves today’s kids and young adults with an adequate sense of the fullness of their human identity, and that loss, I think, is subtly dehumanizing.

    Perhaps the question has more to do with how kids are educated than with whether or not they are over-educated. Education should enrich people rather than only enabling them to do this or that job, however well-paid or necessary to society it may be.

    Post-modern education seems to be putting kids under pressure to perform as potential functionaries rather than as well-rounded people, and this leads to unhappiness and stress. A shift of focus is needed, and it may well be that home-schooling is today a better option that state-controlled education with its over-emphasis on turning out one or another type of worker. Parents might be more inclined to give their own kids a happier and fuller educational experience.

  39. 39 Mohammed Ali
    June 18, 2008 at 11:28

    This is no easy question and is not simply yes or no. Being OVER-EDUCATED depends the part of the world or country in which you find yourself. If you find yourself in the developed world, it will be hard to buy the argument that people are over-educated. In the developed world atleast more than 60% of the population has the opportunity to have at least high school education and the job opportunity is also there.

    On the contrary, if you find yourself in the undeveloped world where government is using tax payers money to sponsor a single individual for a Masters or Doctorate degrees, then that is wasting resources on over-education.

    For example here in Liberia where the literacy rate is estimated to be 15%, the country has one standard university with one or two vocational schools, not even up to standard, with no job opportunities for even high school graduates, it is a waste of resources to sponsor a single individual for masters or doctorate because it will be over-education.

    The best solution in situations like these is firstly focus resources on the majority of the population getting a solid high school education and also provide vocational education for the majority so as to enable them create their ownjob opportunities. With that foundation, the issue of providing the necessary conditions for the Masters and the Ph.Ds will become a necessity for everyone.

  40. June 18, 2008 at 11:33

    its the rich who still need education to understand life.this is because its the rich who are giving poor guys guns,pangas and brainwashing them to fight against one another…like thatcher son and the mercenaries caught by mugabe whilst heading to equitorial guinea. to overthrow the weak govt.

  41. 41 John van Dokkumburg
    June 18, 2008 at 12:09

    Education without moral is shipping to invintity and at least of this proces the strongest will survive till they wraped each other out. Todays Education is to selfisch

  42. June 18, 2008 at 12:17

    Education Carries You, Can You Carry Me!
    The French and Swiss are particularly conscious of kindergarten and primary school care. The English notion that children should enjoy their education is excellent, but not always feasible. British private schools are probably the best in the world.
    Looking at it the other way round, you could give a child the best schooling and university education, but he would still lack something.
    Vocational training, as Janet says, should be universal, since it would eliminate unemployment, and prepare youngsters for the job market.
    One could never be over-educated. Some of us are bookworms, admittedly, but knowledge is a privilege, however undervalued it may be. I have enjoyed pouring over young aspirants in editorial rooms through the years. It is thrilling to see young minds at work. We should simplify learning as much as possible. It is not demeaning if an apprentice outshines his teacher. Education as we knew it in the fifties and sixties is fast disappearing. The internet has changed all that.
    There is so much to be done in the educational field, acquiring skills, communicating across language barriers and conveying ideas; Speaking for myself, I am already history.

  43. 43 Nkuku Mgambe, Ivory Coast
    June 18, 2008 at 12:18

    I think education is no longer education. So many people in this world think that by getting a degree suddenly makes them clever or superior to people without formal education.

    Some of the most successful people in the world have not been to university. School of life I say is the university.

    I have a degree i don’t talk about it much, and i don’t have much respect for people who introduce themselves by flashing their diplomas at you. It shows that despite being ‘over-educated’ they are as stupid as a foot.

  44. 44 John van Dokkumburg
    June 18, 2008 at 12:35

    Education without moral is shipping to infinity and at last of this proces the strongest will survive till they eradicate each other out . Todays Education is to selfisch , we protecting our luxeries but no diverance in our home eart environment we can see this in making alternative luxeries and focussing on the making of new armys and the race to more – keeping high – our destruction .

    Headless education our to get Inspirated in a Huge Dragon, a unilateral war and its spirit begins with a holyist .. you need easy life … Easy so no worries .. But Whois telling you that ? The un-human ( self )isolated gradations in destructional process! True education must stop this kind of smart thinking personal wisdom , no exceptions ! No “drop outs” we need !

  45. 45 Alex in Nairobi
    June 18, 2008 at 12:40

    I think this is a question of the content of our education rather than the length of time we spend in school.

    Against that background, then it is true that many of us are crassly overeducated (or would I say mis-educated).A good percentage of the fields that wes study in our colleges are just there because they were onnce deemed important. Unfortunately, some of these courses have outlived their use and are therefore useless outside the walls of the classrooms. Graduates in these fields are not much useful to the world either.

    I further think we are attaching truckloads of importance to college papers and the colleges that dish out these papers. So that everyone wants to rush to and through college and get a college degree, and for that reason only.

    I don’t think anyone studying the right course and for the right reasons can NEVER be overeducated.

  46. 46 Henry Bles
    June 18, 2008 at 13:04

    If the purpose of education is being able to compete better on the economic battle field; then there is is too much education.
    If education is about problemsolving, understanding, wisdom and satisfying curiosity, then there is never too much education.
    But at least basic education (reading, writing and manipulating numbers) should be available for everyone and if people are expected to vote democracy-like then they should be able to do so in a sensible way.
    Henry Bles from the Netherlands

  47. 47 AFB
    June 18, 2008 at 13:06

    Cool cool question. I think we in the North are undereducated in the things that matter to growth the economy and create innovation. We need to make those ‘practices’, ‘mindsets’ and ‘processes’ more a part of everyday speech and understanding. We need to model Edison, Leonardo, Tesla to see what their magic was and figure out how to put that into the pedagogy starting at a young age. In the North we are constrained because too few people have these skills, and most people are educated to be simply followers in petit bourgeois or worker kind of way.

    In general, we need to let more Right-Brain skills thrive. We are over educated in linear thinking, Left Brain skills and therefore, our people rarely see the ‘whole system’ and have lost empathy for themselves and each other. This is also why we threw our Northern ways on the Global South, marginalizing their natural talents and cultural ways of life, and 50% of them now live in slums in the great ‘City’ model we translated there.

  48. 48 Lamii Kpargoi
    June 18, 2008 at 13:06

    Over educated? Are you guys serious? Don’t think anyone can ever be over educated. In my country, Liberia the vast majority of the population is extremely under educated. This applies to even people who have acquired university degrees over the last 20 years of the country’s history.

    I have an undergraduate degree and am currently in law school but still feel my education is inadequate. I don’t intend to go to the PhD level but at least acquire my law degree and perhaps 2 more graduate level qualifications. More education can never be a bad thing for any nation, most especially countries with chronic intellectual problems like mine.

  49. 49 Moses Magoola
    June 18, 2008 at 13:10

    It is true some section of our society is over educated and the extremely educated do not contribute back to society proportionally. I entirely conform to the assumption of diversifying avenues of job creation as opposed to individuals attaining many degrees as this approach wastes tax payers money because individuals lack a sense of paying back society in the same equal value. In Africa, this is demonstratable through individuals working in different fields from those pursued at university, others turn into chronic drunkards and unfortunately most elites succumb to HIV/AIDS despite the large chunk of tax payer’s money vested in their education

    Moses Magoola

    Kampala, Uganda

  50. 50 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 13:25

    overeducation? There are people in the US with graduate degrees who work at starbucks or deliver pizzas because there simply aren’t enough jobs. In countries like Germany, where going to university isn’t a “human right” people go to trade schools unless they went to a “Gymnasium” for their education, so your educational future is decided when you are a child and your school path determines if you go to University or not, hence preventing University Graduates from having to take jobs that grade school dropouts could work.

  51. 51 Nathan Xu- Hobart Australia
    June 18, 2008 at 13:43

    I think we are. I am a law graduate in Australia and I am hoping to become a lawyer. Universities around Australia are pumping out lawyer more then ever. I have spend 5 years doing a degree and I may not even find a job as a lawyer. Even I do get a job in the lawyer, my pay is much lower then the national average.

  52. 52 Luz María Guzmán from Mexico
    June 18, 2008 at 13:56

    I think education in many countries -including mine- is a right that is not equally accessed by all people, it depends on your economic/social/gender status. There are many countries that have people with doctoral degrees and people that cannot read or write because they didn’t have access to basic education. This only generates more social and economic inequality among the population.

    For instance, the Mexican government subsidizes public universities and gives scholarships to students pursuing graduate degrees, but the quality of basic public education (primary and secondary levels) is not good. There is a significant part of the Mexican population that can read but cannot understand what they are reading. Mexico ranked in the last place of the OCDE counties regarding level of basic education (we are behind Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay and Brazil). So, I think this is an example of what happens when a country invest unequally in education.

    And there is the issue of “overeducation”. I think this happens, especially in developing countries. Government invest in universities and encourage people to pursue university degrees (even graduate degrees), but their labor markets don’t require that many people with that kind of education. So, the result is unemployment and underemployment.

    I am not against higher education. But, I think that one of the first steps that developing countries must take to overcome underdevelopment is provide universal access to high quality basic education to their people.

  53. June 18, 2008 at 14:08

    I am convinced that there is no such thing as over-education. What is missing in some people are human qualities, such as love, kindness, the willingness to listen and hear the otherperson, as well as the willingness to question oneself. But that occurs in people of all educational levels.

  54. 54 Katharina in Ghent
    June 18, 2008 at 14:38

    It depends on what your country needs (mainly): if the need is in goat farmers, then a lawyer is highly over-educated, but even then, somebody has to work in the government, and if that person actually has a significant education, then all the better.

    @ Steve:

    The Austrian school system is very similar to the German, and unless you drop out of school at age 16 to learn a profession as an apprentice, almost all schools will provide you with a high school degree that will allow you to proceed to university. Like it or not, but the high school degree is by far not as valuable as it used to be, so even with that from a specialised high school for ie. programming you won’t get much of a decent job anymore, you have to attend a college or university.

  55. 55 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 15:02

    @ Katharina

    Austria doesn’t have the Realschule and the others that lead to trades. The only germans I ever met that went to University went to Gymnasium. My high school had an exchange program with Vincent Luebeck Gymnasium in Stade, and according to them, you had to go to Gymnasium to go to Universitaet, and they were amazed that virtually everyone in my high school was allowed to go to University.

  56. 56 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 15:04

    @ Nathan Xu, see the link I posted earlier about law jobs in the US. There simply are way too many lawyers in the US. Not enough jobs. In the future you will see lawyers delivering pizzas or making coffee at starbucks.

  57. 57 Katharina in Ghent
    June 18, 2008 at 15:06

    Steve, mind you, I went to a so called Handelsakademie, which teaches business administration, one of my brothers went to a technical high school that taught programming and the other to a different technical high school that taught engineering, all of these schools exist in a three-year and a five year version, the later leaving you with a high school degree similar to that of a Gymnasium. I think I know what I’m talking about.

  58. 58 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 15:07

    @ Lamii

    In the west, you can be over educated, and it will hurt you. Overeducation devalues a degree, meaning that everyone needs one just to be considered literate. It means you need to spend even more money to stand out. I dunno about Liberia, but education in the US isn’t free. One can EASILY spend $100,000 for a university degree in the US, and you will not necessarily earn any more money than a high school dropout would. In fact, I know someone who dropped out of high school that earns a lot more than most college grads. Seriously, what’s the point of spending $100k on an educatio to get a $30,000 a year job when you can make that much without a degree?

  59. 59 Franklyn
    June 18, 2008 at 15:07

    we are not over educated, infact I think we are lacking so much behind in getting the basic and skilled education that should really boost an economy. So I think much should be spent on education as much anyone would want to aqcuire it.
    Franklyn from Nigeria

  60. 60 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 15:09

    @ Katharina

    perhaps the german system is different, or it differs based on the Bundesland? I’m telling you what they told me, then again this was the early 1990s, things could have changed.

  61. 61 Lamii Kpargoi
    June 18, 2008 at 15:21

    A cousin of mine who happens to also be an American told me the same thing when he got his undergrad degree from the University of Maryland at the turn of the last century. He was responding to a query from me on why not he just go on to grad school. His point was that he didn’t need that much education since he could do practically any job in the US a make a decent living.

    But guess what, this same cousin suddenly decided last year that he was going back to school to do his masters. He’s now back in the US interning. He tells me that he’s now realized that to be competitive he had to acquire more education.

    Having spent a short while in the US recently, visiting my wife, I understand the point of your argument. But not every society can afford to have such low opinions of how much education its people can acquire.

  62. 62 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 15:26


    At least he was smart and went to Maryland, which is a cheap school. I’m still kicking myself for not having gone there.

  63. June 18, 2008 at 15:30

    We are not over educated but the things happening around us which donot last longer usually make people to learn things that in the long run will not benefit them and when they do,they soon fine what they learnt to be useless and they feel frustrated and will not learn their lessons.i am an example with so many diplomas in many area of studies no jobs.Remedy-government should limit the opening of schools that will not give an international recognise certificate.


  64. 64 gary
    June 18, 2008 at 15:33

    Many are too narrowly educated, a few may be over-educated. We must remember the object of education is increased understanding. The desired result of understanding is correct action. Thus, over education might be defined as having learned; but not having done. Correlatively, since learning costs time and money, wisdom must be applied to acquisition of knowledge. In simple terms; there are things humanity simply cannot afford the time or resources to learn. While I am a great fan of cosmology, I believe manned visits to planets fall within this category. Any number of simple lessons would be more profitable to learn. Establishing local, sustainable food supplies for the starving would be one, learning how to non-violently correct the behavior of the world’s bullies would be another, while using the resources we burn during warfare to facilitate global understanding through education would be a very worthwhile third. So, while over-education might be possible, I council even more education, with the hope that there is some critical mass of understanding at which when we think “ourselves,” we will mean “every human being on the planet.” Then maybe we could see some correct action.

  65. June 18, 2008 at 15:42

    There is no such thing as over educated. I am ever amazed how ignorance and paranoia have come together in a common thread throughout the globe. general humanities inability to see the grand chess game any further ahead then their own next move or to learn from the mistakes of previous bad decisions is perplexing to say the least.

    It is not a excessive education that plagues us. It is the deficiency in the right types of education.

  66. 66 Anthony
    June 18, 2008 at 15:46

    @ Julie P

    I wasn’t aware you had to go to school to learn? And some people can’t go get a four year degree. Even if I did, it wouldn’t do much. I’m not saying a degree is worthless, or is won’t give you an edge, I’m just saying I could have a job getting paid the same after 4 years, but be in debt for a while. And as far as prestige of a job, I don’t think that should be the most important aspect of a job. I like stress free enviornments, that are very flexable and fun 🙂

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  67. 67 Lamii Kpargoi
    June 18, 2008 at 15:52

    I don’t disagree with you regarding the fact that the quality of one’s education doesn’t necessarily comes with the fact that you spent a lot of money to obtain it. Or the fact that you went to an expensive school.

  68. 68 Anthony
    June 18, 2008 at 15:56

    You don’t have to be over educated to get a good prestigious job :). Here’s a tip!

    I work in the medical field, and I noticed quite a few physicians do their Med schooling in U.S. territories. The advantage is that it’s a lot less money, and you ONLY HAVE TO DO 4 YEARS before your internship and residency. Must be nice to become a Dr. in 7 years!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  69. 69 Brett
    June 18, 2008 at 15:57

    In the future you will see lawyers delivering pizzas or making coffee at starbucks.

    I think that the Greedy American Lawsuit Culture will prevent that from happening. People will always need someone to help them legally steal money from others for stupid reasons.

    Although I sure would like to see lawyers delivering pizzas hahahaha.

  70. 70 John in Salem
    June 18, 2008 at 16:01

    We teach our young in order to make them productive members of society rather than burdens. We try to teach them basic skills – how to learn, how to think critically, how to interact responsibly – and with any luck we’re able to nurture and promote individual talents that emerge.
    Schools in the U.S. are supported mainly by local tax bases and right now most are buckling under budget cuts and an overwhelming wave of immigrant children who speak little or no English. Communities that cut funding to simply the basics produce citiizens that contribute the least to those tax bases which in turn produces a greater burden on the community, and high paying tech industries don’t build new factories in areas that don’t offer skilled labor.
    If all we want are people who can flip burgers or sell shoes or work on an assembly line then there’s no point to anything beyond the 9th grade.
    But if the idea is to spend the money up front rather than later then we cannot afford to shortchange our children, or ourselves, by limiting what they can attain. To only give them the basics of survival is to shoot ourselves in the foot. I would rather pay to have people with graduate degrees struggling to find jobs than have employers looking abroad for qualified applicants.

  71. 71 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 16:08

    @ Brett

    Did you hear about the VA Tech settlement? $11,000,000 of taxpayer money going to pay for the breast implants and lexuses for the families of the victims. Just how I love my money being spent!

    Regardless of how litigious the US is, there simply would never be enough jobs or money for all of the law students. The J.D. is the new MBA, and now that the economy is bad, people will rush to law school, meaning even more Baristas with a graduate degree.

  72. 72 Anthony
    June 18, 2008 at 16:20

    I always see reports on annual earnings of graduates / non-graduates, but I’m curious to see the average annual earnings with a persons I.Q. as a variable.

    There are a lot of people that don’t go to school for a reason. I have a buddy, who’s not too bright, and went to school for about 7 years, and is still missing a few classes. That’s a nice chunk of change wasted!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  73. 73 Brett
    June 18, 2008 at 16:22

    The J.D. is the new MBA, and now that the economy is bad, people will rush to law school, meaning even more Baristas with a graduate degree.

    Starbucks should keep an eye on this and capitalize on it. Legal advice while you wait for your drink! Legal advice over coffee! The opportunities are endless! lol.

  74. 74 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 16:24

    @ Brett

    Having lawyers serve coffee would mean you can say good bye to hot coffee. It would be served lukewarm so that some idiot doesn’t spill it on themself then sue everyone but themselves.

  75. 75 Jessica in NYC
    June 18, 2008 at 16:30

    @Luz María Guzmán you make good points. I’d argue that this applied to developed nations as well. The it has been my experience that some university administrators seemed more concerned with making sure students are having fun and not providing a quality education. The private and elite universities are not available to everyone nor are they made easily financially accessible to those who are lucky enough to get in. The government does help subsidize higher education, but does not do nearly enough to improve high schools (or any public schools). Since, the government does not do spend our tax dollars in providing quality education early on, most entry-level non-physical-labor jobs require a collage degree just to ensure employees have a basic education and can perform basic functions. In the U.S. there is a huge divide in the groups of people who have a higher educations between whites/Caucasians and minorities (blacks, latinos). Whites/Caucasians disproportionately have the majority of undergraduates and even higher rates of post graduate degrees.

  76. 76 Angela in Washington D.C.
    June 18, 2008 at 16:34

    @Steve and Brett

    Although many people are going to law school, some people actually get jobs. I think it is a risk someone has to take, if they really want to practice. Everyone does not end up without a job, just most people.

  77. 77 Brett
    June 18, 2008 at 16:35

    With only skim milk and no whip so people don’t sue Starbucks for getting fat… As if they had no clue…

    We certainly have too many degrees in the US which has upped the educational bar. It hasn’t made us any smarter though lol.

  78. 78 Mohammed Ali
    June 18, 2008 at 16:36

    Should few be highly educated and the vast majority under-educated?

  79. 79 Angela in Washington D.C.
    June 18, 2008 at 16:37


    Many of my friends are going to med school in US territiories or in the Carribean, but all schools are not cheaper. In fact many are more expensive. However, I don[‘t know if it is still the same but I remember the Medical College of Gerogia was five grand a year, for med school. However the school is really hard to get into.

  80. 80 imran
    June 18, 2008 at 16:40

    I don’t think persueing college degrees is all about gaining superiority over others. Neither it is merely a status symbol. The reason why I state is because if you decide to quit after high school, there is no way you can acquire enough skills to do research work in various fields, conduct scientific feats, ETC ETC. Besides, if you do have a college degree, your chances of finding a job are a lot higher compared to those who barely go past high school. The last thing I wish to add here is that those who rue the fact that even after having a college degree they don’t have work, there are other serious factors that determine as to who should uphold certain jobs. For example, international students looking for work after graduating may be turned down by prospective employers on the basis of their ethnic background.

  81. 81 Catalina
    June 18, 2008 at 17:01

    @ Janet

    Wow, I must say that the latter of your comment left me speechless. In such a competitve market, education is the only thing left for young people to rely on. While yes, the new trend appears to be who you know and not what you know, I take deep offense to your statement that degrees should be in law, etc and not in sociology and women studies. As a student that took sociology in high school ( a semester ago), I believe that sociology is one of the most helpful subjects right now is sociology for the simple fact that it tackles important issues and says: look, this is what’s wrong, and this is how we can fix it. What you are completely ignoring is that many people take classes, such as Women’s Studies, to better themselves, and to improve their knowledge of the world around them. I know professors and regular, average people that are in their 40’s and 50’s that make a point of taking classes at a community college JUST so that they can improve their knowledge.

    We are most definitely NOT overeducated, i don’t think anyone can be. I think the real problem is that middle schools and high schools focus on useless information rather than on material needed for college or for the real world. Unless a student plans on going into the math field or plans being some kind of scientist, those classes in high school should be optional. Most of us are never going to use trigonometry in real life, so why teach it to those who don’t want to learn it?

    I also think that the real problem is that many kids who would love to be in school and learn just do not have that opportunity because of various reasons, which most of the time is lack of financial means. With universities being so expensive many students are unable to further their education and end up working a dead end job. Another problem is the way our tax dollars are used. In Chicago, or rather, Illinois, high schools are funded by property taxes. If one lives in a nerighborhood where houses are cheaper, the education will match accordingly. For example, Chicago spends about $9,000 per student in high school, while the suburb in which i live spends about $16,000. Now you tell me, who is getting the better education, who has the better technology, who has the most qualified teachers? ( That’s how a degree in sociology is useful, Janet, it teaches you things like that). The goverment doesn’t spend enough time or money to help students pay for college, and most graduate a 4 year university with a 100,000 debt or more.

    The above made statements pertain to the US government and school system.

    The bottom line is that one can never be overeducated. Just because there is immense competition in the job market does not mean that we should throw more people out in the working world rather than educate them.

  82. 82 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 17:08

    @ Angela

    Lots go to law school thinking they’ll be making six figures, and then graduate making $50,000, saddled with lots of debt, and really bitter. To get a “high paying” lawyer job, which is the goal of most students, you have to have top grades, from a top school, or if not a top school, be at the absolute top of your class. Most people don’t do that. In fact, only 5% of the people can be in the top 5%. Sure, some people go to law school to be government attorneys, or to work in non profits, which is very noble, but if you have student loans, you’d not be able to support yourself. Now that there are record numbers of law students, new schools are opening up, but no new jobs, things will only get worse.

  83. 83 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 17:10

    Also, as I’ve stated before, in the US, student loans will be the next sub prime mortgage type crisis. Too many people, getting in massive debt for worthless degrees. They won’t be able to pay the $1000 a month with a Philosphy degree that the loan repayment requires. It’s time parents stop telling their kids that “you should study anything you want in college” so long as the prices for education is this high.

  84. 84 Mark from kansas
    June 18, 2008 at 17:22

    Sillyness. Education is essential. We may not focus education in the right areas, but thats each individuals choice. We need more education in fact. There are many places in the world that education is substandard to say the least. Even in developed countries there are allot of ignorant people, in need of much education. Intead of spending money on wepnos we should drop those trillions of dollars into secular education especially in Africa and the middle east.

  85. 85 Venessa
    June 18, 2008 at 17:23


    I have also seen stats that people with two year degrees typically earn more than someone with a four year degree.

    I did go to college and my husband went to a private high school, graduated in the top of his class and dropped out of college pretty quickly. He didn’t enjoy school. Now he’s a software engineer (without a bachelor’s degree) and makes quite a bit more money than me.

  86. June 18, 2008 at 17:26

    I think we even need more education than we have today.With that, I thing our economy will be better.Unfortunately,a vast majority of school-going children in third-world countries are not in school due to hardship caused by unsound economic policies by their governments.The way to solve such problem is not to stay away from school but to make school the kids get education and eventually, the problem of economic hardship will be solved

  87. 87 Mark from kansas
    June 18, 2008 at 17:27

    More sillyness, I do not know that many 16 year olds who make good decisions. There are a few diamonds in the rough, and they would probably agree. The exeption would be in countries where 16 year olds are middle aged (acourding to the countries life expectancy), and have taken the role of an adult probably at an even younger age.

  88. June 18, 2008 at 17:36

    All this degree and that degree talk is straying from the question:
    “Is it right that governments should help young adults to do degrees?”

    The one thing that unites the lawyers and the MBA’s unless they happen to have govt. scholarships is they’re degrees are privately funded.

    We’re talking about evaluating the difference of a duality as it exists in that very situation of privately funded degrees; where basic education is potentially mandatory but doesn’t always happen.

    I wonder how the college system is funded in Iraq where barely 50% of kids are even enrolled in primary school and on %40 actually go. There the kids have known nothing but conflict for there entire lives. It seems that the cost of higher education there should not be the role of the government.

  89. June 18, 2008 at 17:38

    What matters is the quality of education the learners get that can benefit them intellectually and professionally. Human beings are by nature curious and they want to get as much information as possible about matters of interest to them. People enjoy doing the jobs for which they are trained and have a liking. The same can be about education.

    When learners get motivating materials for their education, they cherish learning without complaining. Those addicted to knowledge, naturally, have an insatiable desire to learn. No one in his right mind will claim to have full knowledge even of a particular subject.

    It isn’t a question of being educated or under-educated but getting the right education that can benefit one professionally and intellectually. In other words, education shouldn’t be a mental burden, when it is delivered inappropriately. It should be a source of openness and the know-how for personal and general good.

  90. 90 Jens
    June 18, 2008 at 17:44

    i see a truely big problem coming towards us. nowadays everybody needs a bachlors to even get a chshiers job at a fast food chain. the problem with that is a devaluation of the bachlors degree. the trend is now for everyone having to go to grad school. i have a PhD and i am concerned that my work will be worth nothing, since i see people getting PhD’s from minor colleges, who should not even gotten as far as a bachlors. what is the next thing. professor degrees.

    i prefere an honest well qualified plumer or crapenter as my friend and companion over a second or third rate pompeouse math or englich professor at any given time.

    it’s not a matter of over-educated, it is matter of over-degree awarded. my wife does a voactional college and trust me i would employ her ten times over somebody who stumbelled through a BS and has no clue how to work in a laboratory.

  91. 91 Anthony
    June 18, 2008 at 17:45

    @ Zak and “the question”

    We should do it China/India style. Test them all. If you’re really smart, help them out. If you’re dumb, oh well. Sending stupid people to college is like preparing a dwarf for professional basketball, there’s just no point!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  92. 92 Janet T
    June 18, 2008 at 17:46

    Taking a sociology class and majoring in it are two different things-
    what I said is a degree should teach you to do something productive.
    As a business owner, I have people coming in daily, looking for minimum wage jobs. They have degrees in English or biology- and they are not qualified to work here either!
    I’m not against education of any type- I’ve taken classes in computer programming, art, swimming and business for the last 25 years- but I see too may people unprepared for life or any type of real job- they only know how to take classes.
    If they could take a class teaching them how to think for themselves it would help!

  93. 93 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 17:49

    @ Janet T

    It’s the parents and nteachers telling kids it’s okay to study anything they want in college. That’s causing people to get worthless degrees, causing the devaluation of the degree.

  94. June 18, 2008 at 17:51


    suffice as to say I disagree vehemently with everything you said. Aptitude has nothing to do with smarts. The point of college is to increase aptitude and any person, even football players, can be made to learn. Some football players may get degrees in advanced math or engineering, others just barely make the grade to stay on the team; but each of them benefited from the experience.

  95. 95 John in Salem
    June 18, 2008 at 17:53

    Just one half-serious observation here ~ If the spelling, punctuation and composition of the American contributors to this forum are any indication, we need a LOT more education, not less.

  96. 96 Luz María Guzmán from Mexico
    June 18, 2008 at 17:58


    About your comment:
    “it has been my experience that some university administrators seemed more concerned with making sure students are having fun and not providing a quality education.” I completely agree.

    It seems that the trend in universities -at least here in Mexico- is to “socialize” students rather than “educate” them. I know it is important to have a social life, but it is not an excuse to lower the standards.

    It is sad what I am about to say:
    I got good education because my parents were able to pay private schools since pre-school to college. I have a good Master degree because I was able to pay for it (and as a bonus it is from a Canadian university). Public education is suffering. I would love to send my children to public school, but here it is bad quality. 😦

  97. 97 Lamii Kpargoi
    June 18, 2008 at 17:58

    @ Mohammed
    Most definitely not. As my compatriot, I think we should all be concerned about making our countrymen attain wholesome education. Basic education, especially secondary level, for everybody.

  98. 98 Jens
    June 18, 2008 at 18:02

    iz dat reeli zo.

    hey my spelling sucks because i write fast, at least i can deliver a speech without a wee bug in my ear and reading of cards.


  99. 99 Janet T
    June 18, 2008 at 18:06

    we have a program just starting here, sponsored by the auto dealerships for mechanics- the course is 10K, and they will pay most of the tuition, then you come to work for them (the article said their mechanics make 60-80K in a few years) they are having a hard time finding candidates. Our kids are too spoiled in general- they want a career that is exciting every moment of every day, and they want to start at the top.

  100. 100 Anthony
    June 18, 2008 at 18:07

    @ Zak

    So you would rather give a bunch of dumb people the chance to get a degree, even though only a hand few will actually finish or have it benefit them, than use that money for something better? I’m sorry, but some people are just too stupid to take a chance on.

    Go to a Wal-Mart in California, try to have some “good conversations” with your average worker there, and then you tell me you think every person there deserves the right to have our taxes pay for their schooling.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  101. 101 archibald in oregon
    June 18, 2008 at 18:08


    There are many people who make a living off of being in school, getting degree after degree, remaining in the system indefinitely, while many cannot afford access to basic education. Universal education for all would ultimately trickle down to create a better informed and less exploitable populace worldwide. Over-educated is a misnomer, considering we only use 10% of our overall brain capacity…….

  102. 102 Scott Millar
    June 18, 2008 at 18:12

    In a practical sense maybe—in an intellectual sense—NO, NO, NO! Look at the evidence. Look at the state of affairs in the world. Do we seem like an overly smart group of people? If people are overly educated, the education must be inadequate or at least focused in the wrong areas.

  103. 103 Count Iblis
    June 18, 2008 at 18:13


    We are most definitely NOT overeducated, i don’t think anyone can be. I think the real problem is that middle schools and high schools focus on useless information rather than on material needed for college or for the real world. Unless a student plans on going into the math field or plans being some kind of scientist, those classes in high school should be optional. Most of us are never going to use trigonometry in real life, so why teach it to those who don’t want to learn it?

    In case of history and literature education, no one says that this is a waste of time and it should only be taugh in university (as not everyone wants become literature or history professor).

    So, why do have such a negative attitude toward math and physics? Unlike literature and history, math and physics have many applications.

    If you learn abstract math, you can more easily learn computer programming languages. Almost everyone works with computers these days, so that would be a huge benefit.

    It is indeed true that teaching basic math like trigonometry in high school is waste of time. We should instead teach math in primary school. Algebra, trigonometry and most of the other stuff that is now taught in high school can be taught to primary school children. Then in high school one can build on that and teach the real stuff that does have many applications.

  104. 104 Venessa
    June 18, 2008 at 18:15

    We need to focus on basic education. I was at Home Depot the other day and the register broke. The guy behind the check register who looked about 17-18 couldn’t figure out how to make changes when I handed him a $20 for my items that cost $17.62. He actually had to call someone over to help him figure it out even though I stood there and told him exactly what it was. Frightening!

  105. 105 Jens
    June 18, 2008 at 18:16


    i absolutly agree with you, many people are not suited for a college dgree, but society is more and more forcing everybody to have a college degree, be it in basket-weaving. some folks are more practical than others. the world was not build on theoretical thinking. what good does it do if somebody thinks a wheel is a great idea, if nobody is actually going out to build one.

    we have to get away from the thinking that every joe-schmoe needs a PhD and hold a professorship. in reverse the intellectual elite has to stop thinking they are better than the average pleb, because without trash collection we would drown inour own crap…

  106. June 18, 2008 at 18:16

    Bart in the US

    There is no such thing as being over educated. As a construction worker, I don’t regret the years in university I spent studying physics. Get educated to improve yourself, not to get a job.

  107. June 18, 2008 at 18:19

    David in Francistown, Botswana

    Education is the art of living in society not the art of accumulation of certificates. Employers pay for what one produces not for your certification.

  108. 108 Jens
    June 18, 2008 at 18:21


    please tell me the change was $4.66, otherwise I cannot trust my pocket calculater again.

  109. 109 Ben Mokaya
    June 18, 2008 at 18:22

    Whether we are over educated or not, there is one thing I know for sure. Education is the only investment can take from you!

    For those who did not know, in the US, you are not edecated enough if not through their education system. Well,I know of countries in Africa who have very strong education systems i.e Kenya.

    Yes,we are over educated, we do not use our eduction to improve the world order but to chase riches. Education used to be a ticket to good life, not any more! Should we continue being educated? absolutely.

  110. June 18, 2008 at 18:24

    Mason in Park City, Utah

    The quest for knowledge should be the ultimate focus of human existence, no one can be over educated, only through education can the people of the world unite and realize true freedom….this does not mean formal education necessarily, but the knowledge of the world that is spreading to all corners of the globe due to the Internet is inspiring…

  111. June 18, 2008 at 18:24


    Walk into that same walmart and ask for the regional branch manager and you’ll find a complete imbecile with an MBA; anyone working at walmart has no edification, that is morals, because walmart is the death of America.

    There’s a guy who has quad-masters from Stanford and he broadcasts baseball games for the Giants, what is the point of that?

  112. 112 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 18:25

    I have to agree with the “cult of the degree” phenomenon, as it’s also a status symbol, like a BMW for insecure people. However, the worst aspect of this in the US is that it devalues degrees. If everyone got a college degree, then a college degree would be worthless, because not every job requires one. Of the people that I know, the best off are the ones that never finished college. They didn’t need that piece of paper.

  113. 113 Colleen
    June 18, 2008 at 18:25

    I think the world would be a much better place if every individual had the chance to be “over-educated”!

    It’s ignorance that is the real problem in our world.

  114. June 18, 2008 at 18:25

    Helen says…

    We are so flawed and irrational that you cannot discount our education & education system is a product of flawed and irrational people. We don’t know how to prevent unwanted pregnancies,make healthy dietary choices,balance a budget,live within our means,keep a marriage together,maintain our health or care for our children,elderly and disabled in far too many instances. Being more a failure than a success as a society is thanks to egotism and selfishness.Education is NO indication of intelligence

  115. June 18, 2008 at 18:26

    Vytas from Europe

    Too much schooling, too much indoctrination, but NEVER too much education!

  116. 116 Shaun
    June 18, 2008 at 18:27

    Education is important because it teaches critical thought. THE single most important question anybody can ask is ‘why?’ When people stop asking that and holding those in power accountable, they become disconnected and (at the risk of hyperbolizing) we grow nearer to an Orwellian world where people believe whatever they are told. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

  117. June 18, 2008 at 18:27

    Mohammed in Bahrain

    If everyone is educated, are governments capable to provide work for ’everyone’

  118. June 18, 2008 at 18:28

    Max in the US

    I think that education here is overblown. Not very good for the poor in the big cities

  119. 119 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 18:28

    Your canadian guest said that her bachelor’s degree was a stepping stone to her medical degree. In all honesty, that bachelor was a requirement. It’s the same way with a J.D., you are required to get a B.A. or B.S. before you can go to law school. Back when my grandfather was in school, you didn’t need to get a B.A. before going to law school, so my grandfather went to law school right away, not wasting 4 years of his life, and lots of money on a degree he wasn’t going to use anyways.

  120. June 18, 2008 at 18:28


    I’m finishing up my Master’s degree here in the States, and what I am seeing is many people concerned with how they are going to pay back the loans and credit card debt which they have gotten into from the exhorbitant cost of higher education in the U.S. Education has changed as well in the baseline: yesterday’s Bachelor’s degree is today’s Master’s as far as job competition goes. “Education” is the opposite of what our government wants, since an ignorant people is easier to control than an educated population. Public school system funding is constantly being cut, the level of education is well below what it should be, and only those with money or those willing to get into enormous debt are able to go to college. It’s a real mess which we’re going to be paying for in our later generations.

  121. June 18, 2008 at 18:29

    Halifax in Canada

    Education is important because it teaches critical thought. THE single most important question anybody can ask is ‘why?’ When people stop asking that and holding those in power accountable, they become disconnected and (at the risk of hyperbolizing) we grow nearer to an Orwellian world where people believe whatever they are told. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.

  122. 122 Venessa
    June 18, 2008 at 18:30

    Steve ~

    “Of the people that I know, the best off are the ones that never finished college. They didn’t need that piece of paper.”

    I agree with you totally on this. My husband and I are a perfect example. When we first got together my salary was more than his and he has surpassed me very quickly to a great position without the need of “that piece of paper.”

  123. 123 Jens
    June 18, 2008 at 18:31


    that is a generalization that just does not fit the bill.

    i know how to prevent unwanted pregnancies, eat healthy, balance my budget, live within my means, keep my marrige together, maintain my helth etc.

    your statement smacks into the face of people like me who spend a lot of time educating people and voluteering. thanks for your blatend categorizing…


  124. June 18, 2008 at 18:31

    Robert in California
    PhD and Attorney

    In the US we are idiots. 12th graders graduate–or are forced out–with a 9th grade level of reading and math skills. This is horrid!! Our media keeps us stupid (see the front page of Yahoo on any day). I cannot fix a car or a toilet, with two graduate degrees. Such classes are at the schools for SLOW/normal kids–not for us who went to university.
    In the US, there is LITTLE government financial aid–in Germany or Greece, etc, there are countrywide exams to see who is smart. We do NOT have that in the US.

  125. June 18, 2008 at 18:32

    Rachel in Prague

    Here in the Czech Republic few teenagers go to academic high schools, and hence to institutions of higher education. The effect on society is clearly not good.

  126. 126 Scott Millar
    June 18, 2008 at 18:32

    Hey—What’s wrong with depression? Happiness can’t always be the meter for everything. I thought Denmark was the happiest place—seems pretty well-educated.

  127. 127 Lisl
    June 18, 2008 at 18:32

    I don’t think that we should look for a one-size-fits-all answer to education. Each country has their own needs, and though you may be over educated to be of use in a particular country, it doesn’t mean that you are over educated in general. What about doctors? Don’t they need a certain amount of education to be effective? Over education is relative.

  128. June 18, 2008 at 18:33

    Chris in Namibia

    An uneducated population can too easily be bamboozled by a corrupt government

  129. 129 John van Dokkumburg
    June 18, 2008 at 18:34

    Someone sad that more education makes you happieer . Absolute not true , only justice makes us happy , Education is far behind justice . What is justice , The best thing i can think about is , think about duty for the country and after THIS you earn rights from the communion .

  130. 130 Bryant
    June 18, 2008 at 18:34

    What is this “education” we speak of… Using a broadword that can define a process (teaching), a life-long pursuit, or the institutions thereof does not provide a quality discussion, especially in the debate style format this conversation has been set…

    As a former teacher and the recent recipient of a “self-funded” Masters degree… I hold the view that knowledge is power…. what we each do with such an honorable power is a matter of ethics (personal and socially reinforced). The United States does not invest enough of its power in education. I see this as a failure…. Assessments and degrees do not constitute education… Aiding people, the country, the state, and the world are pursuits all education should pursue….

    However, having a zero sum conversation “I believe this… ” while I believe that” does not foster acknowledgment of the issues nor does it provide movement forth… we must listen to concerns and address them and educate persons with skills that will provide them an opportunities and better the quality of life on earth….

    Dialogue NOT debate

  131. 131 Javier
    June 18, 2008 at 18:34

    Hi, this is Javier from Peru. There are also some open questions to be considered:
    1. Not all youths are able to access to a descent education. In fact, in Peru most of schools or universities are either public or private. Public schools or Universities are not longer really supported by the state. Therefore, in most cases, private education has become in a certain manner better. This produces a circle, in which students that received public education will not be able to find good jobs, and thus they will not be able to give good education to their children. How could we end this endless circle?
    2. In some regions, the children have to work, because otherwise, their families are not going to have enough money to face the day-by-day’s life. So, how can we give everybody access to education?
    3. In a globalized world, first one has to consider that there exists large differences between the education’s quality across different countries. So, how can one have the same work possibilities of somebody that has an education from “first-world” countries?

    Best regards from South-america

  132. June 18, 2008 at 18:35

    Bradley in Trinidad and Tobago

    We are missing the real point, some people substitute education for their ability to lead and function properly in the work environment and believe that they should automatically be guaranteed work because they have “education” but the interpersonal capabilities and attitudes is what gets you work not the education. People are over educating themselves hoping that they do not need to develop themselves as persons first.

  133. 133 Zainab
    June 18, 2008 at 18:35

    I think education is a limitless process. we cannot claim that we are over educated. There are always things to learn.

    yours truly ,
    Zainab from Iraq

  134. 134 Charlie Bradley
    June 18, 2008 at 18:36

    Degrees are overrated these days. One does not need a degree as a vehicle for “saving the world” (good luck). All one needs is the ability to recognise opportunities that can enable one to make a difference. No degree needed here.

    As far as obtaining multiple degrees, this is ones choice. If you don’t like the fact that your Government pays for multiple degrees then the laws should be changed.

  135. 135 Fae Marie
    June 18, 2008 at 18:37

    Education is NO indication of intelligence

    YES! Thank you! And whoever said it is right: the new trend in the states is to get J.D.s and PharmDs. It’s going to be a huge blow to some of these folks when they can’t find a job and have over $100,000.00 in student loan debt.

  136. 136 Stephen
    June 18, 2008 at 18:38

    I don’t think that we should be comparing education and happiness.

  137. 137 Ilana from Portland, OR USA
    June 18, 2008 at 18:38

    Let’s not lose sight of what’s actually important. It’s not about education, whether it’s necessary, or whether it’s the key to happiness. Education is necessary and if the level of one’s education is linked to higher socio economic levels, which it often is, you can probably bet that it has a lot to do with happiness.

    However, perhaps the problem is that there’s a societal devaluation of education in the sense that we are living in an ere where the hard sciences reign supreme. Everyone talks prestigiously about engineering, physics, computer science, medicine, etc. degrees and derides social science degrees like anthropology, sociology, etc. And there’s also a societal devaluation of careers related to the social sciences, like teachers, social workers, etc. These are some of the lowest paying careers, yet some of the most important.

    Clearly, this needs to change. How incredible and how invaluable would it be to have doctors and teachers who have earned bachelor’s degrees in anthropology/sociology, who because of that know and care about things such as access to health care/education, the inequalities inherent in health care/education, and the socio-political obstructions that bar certain classes, races, communities, etc. from equal access to health care/education.

  138. June 18, 2008 at 18:38

    Mark in the US

    A good basic education including “The Three R’s” is important for the future insurance of the wealth of any nation. An education in history is important for any nation for the continuity of its culture. The discipline of the classroom is essential for the development of habits of responsibility and self-discipline. All these things are undispensible to any society that means to survive. I read recently that one of four Britons think that Winston Churchill is a fictional character and Sherlock Holmes a real person. What I hear being discussed on the program today seems to reveal a consensus that education now is a sort of indoctrination and the formation of an attitude, not real knowledge.

  139. 139 Rage
    June 18, 2008 at 18:38

    I am a 47 year old crane operater in Ohio, USA. I have bachelor’s degrees in English and history and a master’s in American Studies. I am asked daily,”Why don’t you use your education?” I use my education everyday. My education makes me a better informed voter, a more active member of my community, as well as a compassionate and more concerned world citizen. I do agree that I had advantages that many don’t. I also believe that with all the wealth we have in the world, especially the United States, that all education at all levels should be absolutely free.

  140. 140 Shawn
    June 18, 2008 at 18:38

    It is an interesting issue, the issue of being an educated individual vs. being an intelligent individual. Here in the US, it seems we lack the support of basic knowledge/education that nourishes basic intelligence and puts major emphasis on gaining higher level degrees. I know people that are extremely intelligent without degrees, and they are not able to get a job. Then others that have degrees that are not trained in basic education or intelligence that can get jobs based on degree levels and school choice. Then there is of course the issue of education debt. So, basically, there is a major disparity between education levels or types, and people that are able to get degrees can create a sense of elitism.

  141. 141 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 18:39

    Can anyone tell me what their B.A. got them? I got a worthless one, in History. There was nothing I learned that I couldn’t have obtained from reading on my own or watching the History Channel. You also don’t need to go to university to learn how to drink. In short, at least in the US, a B.A., especially in a useless field, such as the liberal arts, it just a “right of passage” for kids to get away from their parents. However 18 year olds cannot think of the long term consequences of the debt involved getting that worthless degree.

  142. June 18, 2008 at 18:39

    Anonymous in the US

    I am a 47 year old crane operater in Ohio, USA. I have bachelor’s degrees in English and history and a master’s in American Studies. I am asked daily,”Why don’t you use your education?” I use my education everyday. My education makes me a better informed voter, a more active member of my community, as well as a compassionate and more concerned world citizen. I do agree that I had advantages that many don’t. I also believe that with all the wealth we have in the world, especially the United States, that all education at all levels should be absolutely free.

  143. 143 Omunyaruguru
    June 18, 2008 at 18:39

    Listen, there is nothing like over education!!!! Let us stop calling ‘going to school’ an education. If one cannot function in life, he/she is not appropriately educated. I you have five degrees and you cannot get a job, then you are not educated.

  144. 144 Javier
    June 18, 2008 at 18:40

    Hi, this is Javier again. I forgot another point.
    4. Most of qualified students in Peru study abroad in order to receive a better education. This is more common in cases of post-graduate studies. The problem arises then, because most of these students don’t go back home, because they find better job opportunities abroad than going back to Peru. So, has could we stop that? Each state is responsible as well for creating good job opportunities, that allow people to go back home.

    Best wishes

  145. June 18, 2008 at 18:41

    Gregor from Massachusetts

    “The only way to atone for being occasionally a little over-dressed, is by being always absolutely over-educated”. (Oscar Wilde)

  146. 146 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 18:42

    Unhappiness is the result of materialism. The more materialistic one is, the more unlikely one is to ever be happy, because you are never satisfied with what you have, and you always want something more.

  147. June 18, 2008 at 18:42


    Including the kids in Iraq?

    Do you have any idea what it would take to give those kids that right?

    It will take 100 years to give that right back to those people where the kids now don’t have any interest in schools. Education is not a right it’s a privilege.

  148. 148 Dheepan Murgis
    June 18, 2008 at 18:43

    Dear friends

    Education is a fundamental ideology of modern and old civilisations it is by education we begin to realize and learn, to put it in more simple text there is basic education, a right every child should have in order to read or write, this happens in school, further then that any other development that you may pick is entirely open to your own interpretation in its value.

    Although I might be buyers being a University Graduate, my time at university has brought me closer in meeting new talented and unique minds, this lesson that I have learn have made me into a new person being to adapt and think in different paradigms. The best things I got out of university was the process of going through university not what was though to me.

    Briefly on the job training has its perks but when you reach a higher position in your company, the only way to make your share holders understand that your capable person is by a degree or PHD, would you invest in accompany that has a CEO with no formal education. It has become a tool Assurance and to legitimise the hiring process that your have the right mind set and skills. Last point hoe many PHD do you need none at all studies will change and we keep finding new theories and methods with current advancements you might have a PHD today but by the time you reach the upper scale of your company to have the power to make changes and apply your knowledge, it will be outdated, Masters and PHD should only be done when you secure a good foundation in a industry and company.

  149. 149 Fae Marie
    June 18, 2008 at 18:43

    Thank you! When you compare people from different backgrounds and economic statuses, then of course you’ll be unhappy. The level of your degree has no impact on how happy you are. If I learned one thing in college, it’s correlation does not mean causation!

  150. June 18, 2008 at 18:44

    Helen in the US – 16 year olds voting in America?

    I will only consider this when 16 year olds can drive behind me without tailgaiting. Most adults aren’t informed well enough on the issues,and almost every issue is based on monetary value,with impact on the economy as the measure and stamdard of its importance. Even when it is a decision that has a negative impact on people or the environment,the monetary value is the deciding factor and most people and politicians make this the deciding factor.No wonder we’re so screwed up.

  151. 151 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 18:46

    Excuse me, but the people getting killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are getting killed by terrorists and not western soldiers. Is the audience member suggesting that US or UK soldiers blew up that bomb that killed 51 in Baghdad yesterday? Why not blame the evil terrorist that kill over religious beliefs instead of the soldiers trying to stop such attacks?

  152. 152 Anthony
    June 18, 2008 at 18:46

    @ military

    I have a few marine buddies, and they are some of the most close-minded idiots I’ve ever met. They ALWAYS think their right, and any other ideas are absurd to them!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  153. June 18, 2008 at 18:47

    I was just on the phone with you and my business partner here who has been listening thinks that everyone who is taking part in this debate is doing so badly and that they all are over educated…..in the wrong way


  154. 154 Colleen
    June 18, 2008 at 18:47

    If the only way our government will make it affordable to get an education is by sending young people into war with the hope that they’ll survive and be able to take advantage of that benefit, then something is seriously wrong with our leadership.

  155. 155 Fae Marie
    June 18, 2008 at 18:48

    Military is about discipline not war?

    I understand where she is coming from but have you ever been through military training!?

  156. June 18, 2008 at 18:50


    I am 39 and from Jamaica, and I strongly disagree with the idea that people are paid for what they do and not the certificates that they possess. In any modern country it is highly unlikly that a high school gradutate will be given a professional position over someone with a degree. It’s quite nice to say that we should end our education at 16 and focus on other aspects of life, but in today’s world its seriously hard to get a job and support a family with only a high school certificate in todays world.

  157. 157 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 18:50

    In germany, there is Bundesdienst, and one has to join the military for several years, and as we all know, Germany doesn’t get involved in many shooting conflicts these days due to their past.

  158. June 18, 2008 at 18:51

    Rhona in Wiltshire, UK

    There are many who believe that we, in the western world, are the most under-skilled people to have ever walked the planet. The reason is that we are now producing adults who cannot cook, grow food, take care of animals, make clothes, administer first aid, grow and use medicinal plants, deliver babies…… though they can waste, import unnecessarily and consume finite resources. This is also resulting in a lack of resilience to outside shocks to our western lifestyle, i.e. the western lifestyle is highly dependent on oil and as we would appear to have reached the peak of world oil production, we need to learn to live a far more local and community orientated life – this is also likely to be a happier life as we are social creatures and it is not really the best thing for us that we can spend hours driving home from a distant job and go from the car to the house without ever greeting a neighbour. We all need to change our communities into “Transition Initiatives” in order to facilitate “the Great Re-Skilling” which is necessary. Academic education is useful, but needs to be entirely relevant to the reality of our lives, else our youth – our most valuable and precious people – end up disillusioned and playing truant and dropping out.

  159. 159 Lindeigh in Canada
    June 18, 2008 at 18:51

    Education should not be measured only in practical terms. Yes, although doctors and engineers are necessary, so also are moral citizens and upright leaders. The problem with education is that it has divorced the development of the intellect from the development of ethics. Education should develop the person as a moral agent. A honest and moral leader can be a great tribute to soceity although their contribution can not be measured in emperical terms.

  160. 160 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 18:53

    Actually the terrorists are killing your people. That bombing in Baghdad yesterday, that killed 51, who set it off? The US? You seem more angry at the US military than the insane fanatic that actually killed the people in Baghdad yesterday. What kind of education did the bomber have anyways?

  161. June 18, 2008 at 18:54

    Thornton – in part I agree with you friend.

    Caroline enjoys talking much more than listening; to that point I’ll agree that often masters degrees are the equivalent of power that corrupts. But in general she’s probably done that all her life, it’s only now she has the elitist notion to not look back at herself.

    But she’s balanced well by the good Scots.

  162. 162 Anthony
    June 18, 2008 at 18:54

    Re U.S. military

    They only send the dummies to the front line, the “smart” people get to train in jobs you can use later in life. I have a buddy in Iraq that handles computers, and he plays his xbox 360 all day when hes not setting up computers.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  163. 163 Charlie Bradley
    June 18, 2008 at 18:54

    The primary purpose of military training in the US is Killing. One does not receive any secondary training until Bootcamp is over. Bootcamp is where you learn to kill.

  164. 164 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 18:54

    Sorry to interrupt this socialist love fest, but ever since people have lived, there has never been a moment of peace on earth, and to think that war or militaries will go away is about as unrealistic as pork becoming kosher any time soon. It’s a fact of life, and you are showing immaturity by expecting something to go away that has always existed, and will always exist. Face it, people are bad. That’s why we have police. That’s why you don’t let a stranger babysit, it’s simply because people are bad. Adults accept this fact.

  165. 165 Karin
    June 18, 2008 at 18:57

    I think that perception of the military is dependent on experience of the military. How have we experienced the military of Germany? of the US? of Cuba? of Zambia? each country has its military history and therefore its own semantics associated with that history. Local civilians will see that history with different eyes (in Zambia, it is life skills, discipline and order), in the US we see there is a ‘disposability’ to war of the poorer citizens who typically are enlisted, Germany may not in our lifetimes eliminate the semantics of its military history.

    The military can be many things–leadership, ethics, motivation–these are the some of the core drivers behind a military that actually affect its members.

  166. June 18, 2008 at 18:57


    Should be the ground rules of our education system.
    Every other subject should be taught using Nature as a basis as we are desperately in need of revamping our attitudes to and our way of working with, our Natural world. We have to teach our children from the beginning, the depth and intricate structures of the Natural world we all need to survive and the ways and means we can change our world so as we don´t destroy ourselves as so many other creatures have done so in our worlds history. LIFE “Life….is about People, not about things, about relationships between People”.
    “We must Love People and use things not use people and Love things”.

  167. 167 steve
    June 18, 2008 at 18:58

    You don’t vote for your community, you vote for yourself. Your vote is about you. Let the other memebers of your community vote the way they want.

  168. 168 Eric
    June 18, 2008 at 18:58

    I think that what is important is service (not necessarily military service) and contributing to communities and society is important. In our free market society, we are very focused on wealth and furthering myopic personal goals after education and I think that a mechanism to engender activism and civil responsibility, is a good thing. I think that this would lead to enpowering communities and lead to less apathy in many free and advantaged countries. Maybe you could give 16 year olds a vote in exchange for civic or environmental service.

  169. 169 Dheepan Murgis
    June 18, 2008 at 18:58

    George Washington was a military man, one of the few founding fathers of USA, Julius Cesar military mind set, Napoleon Bonaparte military man for the record he created the common law also know as today civil law we use it till this very day in governing our society.

    A gun can safe a life or take a life, it is a person ethics that pass judgment on how we dictate life, military life can make you or break you.

  170. June 18, 2008 at 18:58


    Let’s not lose sight of what’s actually important. It’s not about education, whether it’s necessary, or whether it’s the key to happiness. Education is necessary and if the level of one’s education is linked to higher socio economic levels, which it often is, you can probably bet that it has a lot to do with happiness.

    However, perhaps the problem is that there’s a societal devaluation of education in the sense that we are living in an ere where the hard sciences reign supreme. Everyone talks prestigiously about engineering, physics, computer science, medicine, etc. degrees and derides social science degrees like anthropology, sociology, etc. And there’s also a societal devaluation of careers related to the social sciences, like teachers, social workers, etc. These are some of the lowest paying careers, yet some of the most important.

    Clearly, this needs to change. How incredible and how invaluable would it be to have doctors and teachers who have earned bachelor’s degrees in anthropology/sociology, who because of that know and care about things such as access to health care/education, the inequalities inherent in health care/education, and the socio-political obstructions that bar certain classes, races, communities, etc. from equal access to health care/education.

  171. June 18, 2008 at 18:58


    The military service has valuable skills of edurance and physical staminer there is a negative view of army that is simplistic life is a struggle atimes a crude one that can not wisheshed away. All major medical discovery where made out of conflict.

  172. 172 Sue
    June 18, 2008 at 18:59

    I would like to bolster the point made by the American young lady who said that many Americans choose military service in order to gain skills because they cannot afford higher education. The US military, in addition to teaching technical, engineering and other skills, also will give GI’s financial assistance to attend universities at the completion of their service. It is a strong recruiting enticement tool to attract VOLUNTEERS. GI’s do not just learn how to kill Iraqi’s, as implied by one of the guests. For their hardship and sacrifice, many can come home and attain a degree.

  173. June 18, 2008 at 18:59

    We have a ‘senior lecturer’ who put a 1700 word post up awaiting moderation. Before somebody approves it I just want a shot to say if you cannot control yourself on a blog- then you have no use for that education and should demand a refund.

  174. June 18, 2008 at 18:59

    Pei Wen

    I believe that military service should be compulsory because it instills life skills, obedience and forms the character of the young. Be it male or female. In highly urbanised societies, it can be of immense value to their character formation. Especially when they come from backgrounds were they are pampered by their parents. However to have lengthy conscription that goes beyond a year is unnecessary and may be a waste of time.

  175. 175 Jens
    June 18, 2008 at 18:59

    what is the definition of happiness?

    is a guy sitting in clay hut, hunting for his daily life happier than me who is writing grants frantically to support my research and my life? am i happier because i have an airconditioned office and lab, drive a car and a motorbike and can go skiing?

    can somebody explain to me what is happy in real terms?

    i think happy is what you make out of your given situation. look at your circumstance and think how much worse or better it could be and then act accordingly.

  176. 176 John van Dokkumburg
    June 18, 2008 at 19:00

    Military skills is only for defense but we need to know what we want to defend. Allot i do not want to defend only the good ones … So this inspirator is lead by shortcommings so .. we dont do justice with the army , at the end .. we spread fear and further on and on .. because we defend ourself for the things that shall never come .. circles round ! To mutch of all !

  177. June 18, 2008 at 19:00


    All the points made so far about the importance of education are all true, relatively.
    Any education can be usefull; it all depends on the root of the education. A military education can be useful if it serves as a source of discipline and educating youths. A formal education can be serve the same purpose. In fact, i’m a bit weary about formal education that create peopel that sound the same. Their responses are as a result of the materials that they have acquired in a formal education settings, which can be argued as the same as military training.

  178. June 18, 2008 at 19:04

    Asad in Somalia

    I just want to say that I have been listening very intently to the points regarding education, but can I just say that education is been taking for granted by many people mainly in western countries. Before I came to Australia, I lived in a refugee camp in Malawi for 10 years where we never had basic education. When I arrived in Australian, I had to start learning form the begining, to start studying and learn the basics.. it was like being thrown in a ocean and you don’t know how to swim..I strongly agree with the lady who said that people are been over educated..Education is very important for us Africans who are among the newly growing communities here in Australia.

  179. 179 Jens
    June 18, 2008 at 19:04

    “All major medical discovery where made out of conflict.”

    are you sure? i clearly remember having worked on some really important and commercially succesful anti-cancer and autoimmune drugs in peaceful swizterland during the ninties.

    even penicillin, was discovered by a dude coming back from is vacation after having worked sloppily 😉

  180. June 18, 2008 at 19:05

    Hello, my name is Karalyn, and I consider myself a very happy, educated person. I’ve an associates degree in massage therapy, which was paid for by the government in grants. Before acquiring this skill, I was living and traveling in New Zealand. And previous to that, I was going to university in the states for a few years, where I felt stressed because I wasn’t fully sure what to study, and also, more so, because I wasn’t equipped with the funds to put myself through school. I now own my own business, starting it within the same month after receiving my license for massage therapy. I have friends who are bilingual with double majors, who are presently working at summer camp because they can’t find a job. I feel inadequate as a human being sometimes because I don’t have the proper degrees that society recognizes as being an accomplished person. But when I look at where I am in life, I’m proud.! Sometimes I feel that university is only for people who know what they want to study (ideally with a specific job in mind for when they’ve graduated) and those who have the money to pay for school. Ultimately I think that people will learn whatever they have the drive to discover. I believe education can happen in life on a daily basis whether you’re living and learning the culture of a different country, in history class at university, or reading a book about gardening.

    I have so many more points to make, but I have to get to my day! What an amazing and provoking subject, well done guys. I love it.

  181. June 18, 2008 at 19:06

    To the gentelman from Costa Rica on the WHYS programme..

    Every country has it’s own dynamic and needs. If it works for Costa Rica not to have an army so be it since it’s up to the United States to protect Costa Rica. At the same time my hats off to Costa Rica for being smart enough to recognize this as an opportunity to get ahead. Understand my family was instrumental in founding the Costa rica you see today and I have served in the United States army several years ago, this allowed me to attend college at a very low cost to me or my family. Many of the opinions expressed here against the armed services seem to be very generalized and focused in a very narrow view point. It would be great if we never again needed an army, no one dislikes war more than an the soldier that has to fight it, but if it wasn’t for rough men on tall walls willing to do harm to those who would do harm to you, none of you would have the freedom to have this discussion


  182. 182 Diana Cazar
    June 18, 2008 at 19:08

    A lot of people attend universities in my country Ecuador, there are some public universities, its time and money waste, Education is a luxury there, but people make the sacrifice to have a title, but they don’t have the capacity for create their own future, they don’t know how apply theories they learned, they are overeducate in theory, nothing else, only a few have a future there, a future create by family and friends, and luck. You are not what you know, you are who you know.
    I am in USA now, in the beginning again, I don’t have skills for this country, I don’t have experiences here, I am trying to study, every text I read said that is my opportunity to a better life, but that’s time and money, that I don’t have, I need to survive, sometimes is more difficult than educate me. Why I am here? for my children, maybe this country can open their mind and future.

  183. June 18, 2008 at 19:13

    Chantal in San Francisco, CA

    I do not believe that at this point in time 16 year old should be given the opportunity to vote. Looking back when I was 16 years old I do not believe that I had been given enough education and not only that being in high school, especially at the most critical time in my high school career, given the opportunity of voting would just be only be something taken lightly. Even right now, being 20 years old, voting is taken lightly. Only a select few people I know take part in the opportunity and privilege. Lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 especially in the United States I believe would not make an impact, though it may make a little I believe their are other issues that should be taken care of first such as improving the education of our younger generations and creating a gateway so that may be one day lowering the age would be necessary and make an impact because they are our future. Thank you.

  184. 184 Jens
    June 18, 2008 at 19:17


    i worked my backside off to get my PhD, prmaraly to prove myself that i can achieve at the highest level and prove to all the idiots that told me i am an academic newt, that i am cereberally as capable as they are. funny thing is they never learned of it since i left my country…..

    one big hint never feel inadequate, i know it is easier said than done, but academic achievment only evaluates what you are capable of in a specific field. i actually may also evaluate how crappy you can be to others by demonstrating you are willing and capable of walking over bodies.

    my PhD and faculty position does not say anything about my character and who i am. it just attest that i achieve as high as possible in a specific academic field. i could still be an egocentric maniac, who ill-treats his students for personal gain….

    you value to society is probably best described by the company you keep.

  185. June 18, 2008 at 19:18


    I think more money should be spent on Primary & Secondary Educations. Basic Educations is the process of guidance future for Children.

  186. June 18, 2008 at 19:18

    Mustapha in Nigeria

    No country ever gets over educated it is the presence of the necessary mechanism to harness it that matters.

  187. June 18, 2008 at 19:19

    Oziama in Nigeria

    The military succeeded in ruining Nigeria’s bright future. Let them remain for external & internal security…for that’s their duty

  188. June 18, 2008 at 19:20

    Layee in Liberia

    In my country, people like education but politicians are not helping students only during the voting period.

  189. 189 Eric J
    June 18, 2008 at 19:22

    Some of today’s comments were quite shocking.


    If you are not using your degree(s) then that is the issue. If employers do not give adequate assessment of employees and simply pick degree holders capriciously, then employer stupidity is the issue not the degree holder trying to get whatever job they can. That doesn’t mean that you should hope you picked the ONE degree correctly and hope there is no drop in demand for it. Markets change and employees need to keep pace. This world is changing too fast not to keep up with it. Lifelong learning is mandatory; like it or choose to be a victim of it.

    I agree with the panelist from Nigeria that said the quality of education must be high quality in order to be worthwhile. Again this is a separate issue though. If your education is low quality, then it doesn’t matter how many degrees you have.

    Carolyn, I applaud your efforts and hope you achieve six Masters degrees if it suits your life goals. I think a Womens Studies Masters would be be a fine compliment to your path…just a suggestion. Only you can determine how much education is enough. Personally, if I had a windfall of millions and could do anything, I would shoot for 6 Doctoral degrees. I seriously support your efforts-full speed ahead!

  190. June 18, 2008 at 19:22

    Charles in Malawi

    16 yrs should not vote cause 16 is still a young age They have to concentrate on education not politics..at 22 yrs sure..

  191. June 18, 2008 at 19:24

    Mustapha in Gambia

    16 year olds should be given the right to vote.

  192. 192 Mohamed Ali
    June 18, 2008 at 19:25

    If everyone is educated, will governments have the capability to provide work for them all?

    Mohamed from Bahrain

  193. June 18, 2008 at 19:25

    Unyime in Nigeria

    A downward review of voting should be a function of a society literacy rating. Highly literate society can bring down her voting age.

  194. June 18, 2008 at 19:26

    Geraldine in Nigeria

    The ’wise old ones’ in Nigeria haven’t done anythng right,the young ones have a right to try to secure their future by determining who gets their vote!

  195. June 18, 2008 at 19:27

    Nathaniel in Ghana

    I think 16 old should but they must have pass junior secondary school.

  196. June 18, 2008 at 19:28

    David in Sierra Leone

    I think even 14 years should vote, as child make wiser decisions compared with adults.

  197. June 18, 2008 at 19:52

    Musa in Sierra Leone

    Why not allow 14 or 12 year olds if you allow 16 year olds. 16 year olds are still children. They are largely responsible enough. They should wait acouple more years or so it won’t hurt.

  198. June 18, 2008 at 19:54

    Robert in Uganda

    Most of the 16-year olds will be at school in most countries. School curiccula at this level does not have adequate coverage of political affairs. These youngsters will therefore not be well informed about politics, and may not be objective in voting.

  199. June 18, 2008 at 19:58

    Cheryl in Liberia

    Even 12 year old olds should be allowed to vote. I am am African and I see 12 year olds taking responsibility of their siblings and ailing parents.

  200. 200 Jens
    June 18, 2008 at 20:10

    Ok, having read the last comments, i am for voting rights at birth…….

  201. 201 Anthony
    June 18, 2008 at 20:16

    Well, now that I see so many people talking about “16 year old voting” on the “over-educated” page, I think we might need a little more education.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  202. 202 Jens
    June 18, 2008 at 20:32


    maybe they thing the 16 year olds are way over-educated and therefore should be allowed to vote. is this on the right page? i am ever so confused?

  203. 203 Jens
    June 18, 2008 at 20:33

    think not thing, stupid un-deducated 40-plus year old…sorry for that really bad typo

  204. June 18, 2008 at 21:22

    Hi WHYSers!

    I am not sure what to say in response to the question above, in part because formal education is sometimes, highly overrated. By which I mean, there are people who are qualified on paper but are a dismal failure at their jobs, as well as there are people who are qualified and rarely ever move in the system. From where I am sitting, I think it altogether depends on the type of education one has and its functional value in a specific set of social, economic and political system.

  205. 205 Pangolin-California
    June 18, 2008 at 21:23

    Apparently modern education values word count over clarity of thought or communication. It certainly hasn’t managed to master grammar or punctuation. I read through the pile of word bombs here and found little to provide hope.

    If you live in a hot weather climate go outside and look at the roofs around you. If you see a roof that is any color other than white or near white that building is wasting energy on cooling. In cold climates how thick are your walls? Thermal resistance means more for your daily comfort than your degree but everyone ignores it.

    Why do we grow sterile and inedible landscapes in the West? Why are third world cities devoid of plants? Who decided this and why can’t we fix it? Why are kitchen stoves in the developing world so poor when better models would save thousands of lives and millions of trees?

    In the US, your average medical doctor will spend ten minutes or less with a patient and attempt to write a prescription in that time. Somebody tell me why he needed 20 years of schooling to parrot his pharmaceutical rep?

    Everywhere our engineers seem to be able to design vast concrete road structures but are unable to build a decent public transport systems. Our world is choking in fossil fuel emissions but popular proposed solutions are patently unworkable from the start.

    I dropped out of high school and dropped out of college. I have cooked in award winning restaurants, built: houses, boats, planned communities and kilns. I have home-birthed two kids, patched roofs, repaired wiring and plumbing, thrown pots, planted and tended gardens edible and decorative and operate computers.

    I’m out of work because I can’t get one of the over-degreed idiots with an M.D. to put down the prescription pad and help my figure out why I get bouts of crippling pain. So I am reduced to blogging at odd hours.

    Your degrees are like hex wrenches, excellent for doing a highly specialized job and otherwise useless bits of clutter. Get your hands dirty. make mistakes, and learn to curse the bastards with the degrees that designed such a shoddy world.

  206. June 18, 2008 at 21:48

    @ Pangolin-California,

    Could not agree more! Though, I too get high on the wordsmithing and, in many ways, am part of the “system”. However, the “over degreed” phenomonon to use your words is a little much at the best of times.

    Common sense seems to be excluded, these days, from formal education. More degrees are the actual substitute, it appears, for real smarts. By which I mean, just using one’s brain and actually saying what you think, rather than what you are supposed and are trained to. I am not sure why this is. But this is the life! Sadly!

    I would venture that, it may be for the simple (?) reason that the persons who engineered the system were ‘too smart’ to place real value of actual inteligence. They probably felt that it was one of these objective realities to be studied in a sterile lab somewhere, while making outrageous and implausible conclusion (no “dis” to scientists!) Hence, the degree pursuing/ granting realities in which we now live.

  207. 207 Jim Harper
    June 18, 2008 at 21:53

    Education with application is the key . Too often people think they are educated and have no practical application. This is the true definition of over-educated.

  208. 208 jamily5
    June 18, 2008 at 22:16

    I thought that when I saw so many posts about the military!

    Education is specific and it does not mean that one person is educated in another field.
    sometimes it is just common sense.
    I am a person with a disability.
    I have had doctors ask quite uneducated questions and make comments that would suggest that they can not analyze and/or reason.
    And, unfortunately, more doctors than any other group of people.
    similarly, I have had people who have had no school past 9th grade be quite informed and displayed quite a bit of common sense.
    I have a degree in social work and can tell you that our value system is mixed up when we don’t value teachers, careworkers, human service workers and such, as much as we value people who work with machines, materials, etc.

    I believe that there are fundamental differences in being highly educated
    highly intelectual
    and a student of learning.

  209. June 18, 2008 at 22:25

    @ Jens,

    You are a very naughty (smile!).

    Frankly, I am all for education, however, one has to have some useful value as Jim Harper notes. Otherwise, what is the point, really? The truth is that there is a phenomenal amount of disparity between different types of educational systems even within specific systems and that is what accounts for the gaps in common sense, inteligence and pieces of paper highlighting academic achievements.

    In Jamaica, there has been a long running debate, which is routinely pulled out and dusted off regarding whether a degree is just a piece of paper. Of course, that “debate” usually surfaces when there are “concerns” regarding the work force and this myth about “work experience”, which I never buy.

    I often interpret the pressure to “get experience” to mean there is some way in which justification is being sought for hiring people with questionable qualifications, among others. Often, calling into disrepute the value and integrity of a broadbased, relevant and cutting edge education. In the Jamaican context, that tension is usually played out between the global and the local; uptown and downtown and, I regret to say, even black and white, as but an extensions of that twisted dichotomy.

    In that regard, the question, I think, is not whether we are over-educated. That may even give the impression that there is a limit to what can be known which, of course, is nonsense. What is, effectively, at heart here is not whether one has too many degrees or where they have been acquired, necessarilly. Rather, to what extent does a degree reflect, with precision, the real passions and desires of the work force? And, how might such passions be effectively harnessed to trigger real economic growth and appropriate development for all.

    Indeed, too many of us are marking time doing things that have no real effect on firing our creativity and sparking our passions. Paper pushing and mediocrity are every minute as bad as they scourge of violence and the malaise which threaten so much of our modern realities. The pen is, indeed, mightier than the sword, especially those pens that end up inaccurately diagnosing certain problems which set us all back by light years.

    That is the real issue – not over education in the sense in which one has too many degrees, but whether such degrees, by their very natures, define in a real way the actual solutions needed to trigger appropriate development in society?

  210. June 18, 2008 at 22:32

    Of course, like all the others before, typos are the bane of my existence. Nuff said in relation to the previous entry!

  211. 211 Jens
    June 18, 2008 at 23:02


    i have been involved with higher education for more then 20 years (be it as student or now as faculty). trust. pagolin-california has fairly warpped way of looking at this issue, probably formed by his own experiance. during this time i have met plenty highly educated but terribly close-minded people. on the otherside of the coin i have met plenty of construction workers who are very intelligent and capable. guess whom i prefer for my company???

    i am one of the academics, who started truely at the bottom (no highschool degree for one!) and worked through all levels. as such i have probably a very good understanding of the academic “caste system”, and trust me i am appaled by either perception. anyway, i do know how to patch a roof, fix a swamp cooler, restore a motorcycle, garden, cut trees, rescue people in the wilderness, to name a few. henec not every academic is just a waste of space, as it has been mentioned here once and twice

  212. June 18, 2008 at 23:49

    @ Jens,

    I could not agree more.

    My thing though, is that I can neither do any of the things which are noted above – fixing computers, etc., and take no special interests in wanting to do any of it. As far as I am concerned, it is enough that I am. That is sufficient.

    As for education and working your way through the system, I completely understand. I am in the process of finishing a graduate degree myself and have taught undergraduates, etc. So, I get it. Trust me! I say yes to formal education and more to the point, yes to lots of degrees if that is your thing. What I am much more interested in, however, is of what practical use are you after such education? What is your raison d’etre? That is the question (I believe!)

  213. June 19, 2008 at 00:10

    Goodness, had to leave, but I’m just glad the BBC has enough sense to follow the excessive length barred rule once in awhile. Sometimes you have a lot to say but in regards to John in Salem’s point earlier about peoples grammar; I’ll take all the misspellings you can give in exchange for not seeing someone’s tales of mediocrity. I mean how full of yourself do you have to get to think someone else is actually going to read a NY Times cover story length piece on a blog post? Can anyone relate to how dumb that sounds? For a college professor, that right there, is the definition of over educated.

  214. 214 Pedro Cézar
    June 19, 2008 at 00:14

    Over-education must be compared to a certain parameter. What should it be? Or not be at all.
    If we truly live in a modern always-changing world, we ought to push our resources forward and incorporate new techniques that make us confident enough to give better responses to our needs.

  215. June 19, 2008 at 00:43

    [edited out insult, please don’t insult other posters]

    Now, about education. MBA’s, Journalism, merchandising, advertising, etc–these are the crafts of the market place and we do need degreed people well versed in these fields. We also need good crafts people: potters and carpenters, metalworkers, plumbers, farmers and taylors, store keepers and merchants. Trades for which youth used to train early on to develop skills and eventually mastery. Some years ago high schools had vocational training classes in these areas–practical and valuable. They provide good livelihoods. But training and trades is not ‘education’ as the term has been traditionally understood since antiquity.

    Education does not aim to provide a means to make a living. Highly educated people often find applications for their education that are highly remunerative and provide good incomes. But that is ancillary to the aim and purpose of ‘education’. Education then is a field of subjects and study pursued for THEIR OWN SAKE, not for some other purpose. Education aims at preparing the young to know, to seek, to live the Good Life. But here again, the “good life” does not mean comforts and conveniences, wealth or possessions. The Good Life refers to values, to inner development, to ‘knowledge’ pursued for the sake of knowledge; it refers to the development of ‘right thought’ and ‘right living’. ‘Education is what today’s world lacks and suffers from.

  216. 216 L. Walker
    June 19, 2008 at 01:23

    … i can’t believe what i’m hearing… over-educated?
    you’re kidding.


    apparently ignorance IS bliss…

  217. June 19, 2008 at 03:22

    Consider that today’s college graduates, unless they enter highly specialized fields such as medecine, law, or physics (and maybe after a decade of such work) will probably change their professions at least five times in their lifetimes (so the “experts” say). They’ll do so not because of boredom or selfishness. People in the future will change their sources of income out of pure necessity. Companies fail or get acquired. Economic trends reshape workforces. Production and services relocate. So, the education scheme of pure academics may succumb to the need of applied knowledge; students/employees may forego a four year degree (and higher) for specific certifications in trade and service industries. There’s just no sure fire way to predict what field of study will be in demand by the time a student graduates from a university. I partially agree that high school graduates that spend the next 20 years of their lives earning a Phd in a not oft discussed subject, subsidized by their parents or government, need to work in the real world and sweat some real sweat before committing their bodies and souls into academia. Though, I do admire their desires to develop expertise in their chosen subjects. I believe we will always need “over-educated” people. We’ll need our historians. We’ll need our doctors. We’ll need people who know how to make our computers run faster. But, we also need “over-educated” people to pay taxes: pick up a shovel instead of a pen. I see it happening already. I’m over-qualified for the job I have now. Given the opportunities, I’d love to work as a wood worker for awhile, then switch to screenwriter, then switch to teen crisis counselor, and maybe bonsai nurseryman to finish a long life. In the days to come, don’t be surprised if a BA degree is a prerequisite just to get into your company’s mailroom.

  218. 218 Christi
    June 19, 2008 at 04:37

    AMEN!!! The world is in SUCH chaos right now, part of the biggest problem is LACK of education, kids graduate from HS and can’t read or write. It’s the ISD’s. Then, even some universities or “organizations” allow people to teach that are truly NOT qualified. Basically, the root of all evil is what values/morals/ethics we are shown and taught by the most prevelantly available adult.

  219. 219 Iddi Musyemi
    June 19, 2008 at 05:22

    All of the advanced and “first world” countries have most of their population well versed in education. These countries encourage their youths to study in areas that they deem to be fitting and needed by the sponsoring country. Unfortunately most the people from Africa who have gone abroad to study, have ended up with PhDs and certificates and other papers that have been of no use to Africa. I have a friend who studied in India and came back with PhD in Indian History! That to me is a form of mis-education and not over-education. What in Africa do we need Indian history for!?

  220. 220 John van Dokkumburg
    June 19, 2008 at 07:07

    Education and promotion, is that the goal to have a better life ? Well one conclusion for this mental unwise : We are fare behind smart life ! Education is the opposite of smart life , it is isolated from real life, its lesser then real life , it is a fantasy !

  221. 221 parth guragain
    June 19, 2008 at 09:13

    i don’t think that we are over educated.what i think is a basic flaw in our education system is that we haven’t found enough steam to educate our society .education becomes passion when one;s intrest and education merge but we run for education which will make us rich.

  222. 222 Acristina
    June 19, 2008 at 12:47

    Hello Ros,

    My reply to Chola and Susan from Zambia. First off, let’s be clear and differentiate: elementary education, vocational training, professional education, higher training and higher education–each serves a different function and responds to differing needs. Society educates its young to fit into society. In grammar school and high school levels, youth is given the basic tools to function in society, to care for themselves and contribute to the whole.

    Training in a craft or occupation follows. ‘Training’ prepares a person to make a living in a given field or activity. In the past, in some places, such training started in early youth and progressed through varying stages from trainee to full mastery. Carpenters and weavers, jewelers, plumbers and smiths, these and many others, as well as craftsmen of all types, undergo training in fields essential to the proper functioning of society.

    Then there is professional training such as that given to journalists and teachers and lawyers, to administrators and business people, architects and engineers, pharmacists and doctors–professions essential to the health and well being of humanity and society.

    All these share in common a single purpose: education with a purpose. Education to make a living at one or another level.

    Beyond these is Education for its own sake. Education that concerns itself not with the market place or meal ticket acquisition, but with living itself and learning about life and about oneself.

    A properly functioning healthy society needs all the above. But, in Africa as in much of Asia and Latin America, vast numbers of people have no opportunity to pursue any of these. One must start where one is at, at the beginning, at the front door, at basement level. Literacy first for all peoples. Then we can move from there into vocational training and occupations and on to the professions and higher endeavors.

    But, the Three R’s, literacy, self-sufficiency and employment must precede all else.


  223. 223 Dorcas
    June 19, 2008 at 13:27

    Yes, we are overeducated. It is the impulse to get the highest certificate money can buy and to add prefix like Dr. and suffixes like Phd to our names that has taken the world’s focus from what is really important.

    After I graduated from college and got myself a nice job, it occured to me that what I really wanted to do was stay home with my kids and then make money from my home. At that point I realize how unprepared I was for handling the realities of life because I was always told how important education was and nobody bothered to tell me how important it was to acquire a vocational skill just in case I couldn’t get a white collar job. I had to go to a catering school and learn how to bake so I could work from my home.

    In as much as I agree that college education help me manage my small business, I also feel that I was undereducated in what matters most: Life’s skills. I wish I was told to take my Home Economics class seriously but everyone thought as long as I could get my As in things that mattered like Economics and Accounting. That was cool.

    Higher education is good but Vocational education is more important because the jobs are getting fewer and people with vocational skills are the ones who will eventually make it in this world today.

  224. 224 Akbar
    June 19, 2008 at 13:49

    Hi Ros, Akbar here in Tehran
    Enjoyed the CIVICUS Youth Assembly 2008 discussion on Wednesday.
    It showed what youngsters can do if they are given the opportunity.
    Pity no one from Iran.


    Akbar Javadi

  225. 225 Catalina
    June 19, 2008 at 15:23

    @ Count:
    “So, why do have such a negative attitude toward math and physics? Unlike literature and history, math and physics have many applications.”

    I don’t think that the attitude is necessarily negative, but speaking for myself only, the US screwed me over in terms of Math & Science. I was born in Romania, and i used to take advanced math classes on Saturdays. When i came to the US, i was held back a grade because I was considered not as smart as everyone else because I came from an Eastern European country. When in fact, i knew more math than the 8th graders (i was in 4th grade). Now, math is my worst subject, and it completely confuses me, as does science. My strongest points are english, literature, subjects like that. So what I was trying to say is that those that do not like math or science, or maybe not even that, those that don’t understand it, shouldn’t have to be forced to take it.

    @ janet

    I completely agree that taking a class and majoring in something is completely different, but the way you worded your post it seemed as though you were against such subjects.

    @ Robert in California
    PhD and Attorney
    “In the US we are idiots. 12th graders graduate–or are forced out–with a 9th grade level of reading and math skills. This is horrid!! Our media keeps us stupid (see the front page of Yahoo on any day). I cannot fix a car or a toilet, with two graduate degrees”

    You can speak for yourself buddy, I am most definitely not an idiot. I JUST graduated from high school two weeks ago and my reading level surpasses that of 3rd year college students. I definitely don’t know where you get your information from but please refrain from making such general statements about students in the US. Just because YOU can’t fix a car or a toilet, doesn’t mean I can’t. The media doesn’t force stupidity on anyone. Yes, it bombards us with idiotic information, but there’s a thing called a remote. Turn the TV off if you don’t like what’s on. Furthermore, we can choose what information to take in and believe and what to throw away, if anyone is keeping you stupid, it’s your own beliefs.

    I’m not trying to insult you, but I am definitely not stupid, and I live in the US. The media doesn’t do anything but entertain me.

  226. June 19, 2008 at 16:29

    Over education for a few, using public resources is very unfair to the young upcoming members of society. But if it is done using private resources, am afraid there is nothing much we can do because we don’t own those resources!

    I would like however to bring to light the issue of Lack of Career Counseling and guidance in primary and secondary schools in Uganda ans many other African Countries under the pretext that teachers are also counselors! its a major omission yet it is one of the affordable and quick and possible reforms that can significantly increase the quality of education as we look for ways of implementing other reforms like emphasis on practical subjects and promotion of Vocational studies as opposed to emphasizing conventional courses which are only taught in Universities here in Uganda, majority of which are theoretical!

    Its time for Africa to train career counselors to guide our children to their desired careers taking into account their interests and all personal abilities and strengths.

  227. 227 steve
    June 19, 2008 at 16:39


    i cannot believe my eyes. to think these idiots will be voting one day scares me!

  228. 228 Jens
    June 19, 2008 at 16:58


    how ironic. it is exactly this demography clinton was fighting for. white blue collar women of all ages….

  229. 229 steve
    June 19, 2008 at 17:00

    @ Jens

    Wow, I never knew there was a demand for homeless men. I’m sure all the street people I see would move up to Massachusetts in a heartbeat if they heard about this story.

  230. June 20, 2008 at 07:38

    we are you with Aisha all your friends and auntie and uncle are with you

  231. June 20, 2008 at 07:50

    education is important because I think the world would ba much better place if every young individual had the chance to be over educated.

  232. 233 Rolf Mg
    June 20, 2008 at 15:28

    It is not an issue of “under- or overeducation”. I think we have all to agree that good education is the key to development.
    The issue is content, quality and appropriateness! It seems to be that education is reduced down to striving for high degrees – what a fatal error. In the North we may be able to afford and at one stage these young fellows with titles longer than their names may be mainstreamed – at quite high costs though. In the South this creates only inbalance and even “brain drain”. Before looking for high degrees – as it was said in one of the comments – we have to ensure access to appropriate and high quality basic education to empower people and to stimulate a self help process to overcome poverty and to provide livlihood to the majority of people.
    Rolf Mg

  233. 234 Marshall
    June 21, 2008 at 19:04

    I can honestly say that in Iowa, the people are not over-educated. In fact, most of my graduating high school class was unable to complete basic grade-level functions. The colleges in Iowa are being forced to offer remedial classes in almost every subject; students are simply not prepared to undertake normal courses. Is it the system that is failing, or is it possible that all are not intended to pursue academic careers? Regardless of the answer, I notice my college classes are more about “getting it over with” for students and professors, rather than actually trying to learn. So, the question I pose is: Is education about getting a job, or is it about learning (with a job as a possible benefit)?

    Perhaps what we are perceiving is a shift in what role education plays in our society/societies. Maybe we should consider a school system that is adept at supporting the differing skills of each student, instead of offering “cookie-cutter” curriculum. Is it so out of question to offer the opportunity of dance, music, acting, advanced mathematics, foreign language, etc (all of which were are rarely introduced to children until late in High School in Iowa, the supposed leader in education in the United States) to students as serious fields of study early on?

  234. 235 Judy
    June 22, 2008 at 12:43

    I don’t know that it’s a problem of over-education. I think that there needs to be more emphasis on the best education at a younger age. The tendency is to get a basic education, then further that with university or college. If the focus is on a better education in the younger years, then more people would be able to go into the workforce and only those who want specialty jobs continue with a formal education. Of course, education should never stop as we should always be learning!!, but there should be a limit on what the government pays for and this should not be wasted.

    I know that the school system in Australia tends to ensure “basic skills” are learned, but they miss a lot of the finer skills and there are too many students who “fall through the cracks” and only meet these basic standards when their potential is so much greater!

    If the children are given the opportunity to learn more at a younger age, then there are many options that can be opened up to them through the high school years when they are asked to decide what careers they would like to explore.

  235. 236 lb
    June 29, 2008 at 22:18

    I think this article is crap. We are no way near being over-educated. Especially in the US. Only a small amount of people are educated with higher education degrees.

    Also though they outnumber the actual jobs. That isn’t society’s fault. I believe the current status quo has worked hard to ensure that only a few would be able to generate jobs, and only a few would be able to decide the wages and worth of said jobs. Now they make wages low, hours long, and competition HIGH. It’s like a rat race really.

    This is what each and everyone of you guys should ask yourself. Is being able to get a job and have a career all there is to life and society?

    If you say yes then you must seriously do some soul-searching, and maybe leave your bubble called the American Dream. See the world, and view life through a different lens.

    Now I believe in American society we are very anti-intellectual. This has led to an under value of education taking place. As people with degrees are being viewed by their potential employers as those who just decided and could afford to take a few years of vacation. That makes little sense to me as we live in a society where connections matter. What I’ve noticed about degrees, and advanced degrees is that they are extremely difficult in pursuing. You need time, and money even in a bad economy. But it is needed to be able to advance and compete for more peanuts. This is why I might be seeking employment outside of America once I get my degree, or at the very seek seek a graduate school that is outside of America.

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